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Yahoo's Involvement in WebRings: Big Brother?


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In Today's Email to HooBoy, contributor LosGatan asked:


Although I'm very hesitant to make this request, I think it would be helpful if you could share your thoughts about this with your audience. I think we'd all be interested to know


(1) why/how Yahoo got involved with the rings,


(2) your assessment of the privacy issue, and


(3) whether ring members like yourself are comfortable with Yahoo's "participation."


HooBoy responded:


1. I think this should be addressed in the Message Center and maybe it has


2. I find Yahoo very useful; In fact I have a personalized homepage which keeps track of airfares and all the important things in my life.


3. I do not use or subscsribe to Yahoo's web rings, but it is a way for them to track interests of people so they can sell eyeballs to adviertisers. I do not think there is anything subserversive about it.


HooBoy goes on to give some other advise about AOL, junk mail, and other comments worth reading.


Since I do not recall the issue being discussed other than by LosGatan and myself, and then soley over the technical issue of why LosGatan suddenly was denied access to one of the Escort WebRings, rather than the ethical/contextual issues involved, I am taking the liberty of starting a new thread on the issue here, and invite more comments & other points of view.


My take on this is a little different from HooBoy's.


My recollection (and I wasn't taking notes) was that whatever was originally operating WebRings was initially bought out by Geocities, and then Geocities was acquired by Yahoo. (LosGatan should be well acquainted with techie companies acting like pirrhana, as both of us live not far from SillyCon valley ;-) )


The earlier technical observation was that Yahoo now deems some webrings to contain Adult content and therefore requires you to be logged in to Yahooby accepting a cookie. One doesn't need a separate WebRing account in order to access the adult webrings.


I formerly listed my homepage with the Gay S&M and leather WebRingss. I only delisted it because my boyfriend came across it, thought that people would think he was stupid or blind for letting me fuck around behind his back and I offered to not advertise my page on the web (period). (I had been under the impression that we were on the Clinton plan about my satisfying my needs for occasional variety - don't ask, don't tell).


I had no particular concerns about my privacy by visiting other WebRing sites, (and my email address is *not* programmed into my netscape preferences as I use a different email user interface), and of course I couldn't have terrible concerns about my privacy about a public web site (which didn't give my name, telephone number, or anything other than a relatively anonymous email stop).


I don't believe that Yahoo is any more or less likely to do something untoward with information obtained by visiting webring sites or linking one's homepage into a webring than the original web ring organization did, and at the very least, Yahoo has a very clear and public privacy statement about what it will and will not do at:



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Thanks for the additional information. I am still a bit worried that a big organization like Yahoo will ultimately decide that it can't host a ring devoted to "illegal" activities (just as AOL deleted its escort bulletin board about a year ago).


Guess we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed!

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