Advertising: Comparing Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo privacy policies

When it comes to your email, privacy is typically a topic of conversation. Microsoft and Google certainly have their own stance on how this should be approached and even Yahoo! has its own rules to play by. This isn't a big surpirse really as each company has their own stance on privay and each take their own approch, some more invasive than others.

We are going to take a look at three of the top players in the email segment, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!. There are certainly more email platforms out there and we encourage you to take a look at whatever service you are using but for now, these are the three main platforms we will take a deeper look at. Specifically, we are looking out who else is scanning your email and attachments as the majority of the policies align on security and features and all other areas for end user protection but differ greatly from reading your email.

If you want to take a look at the privacy policies for yourself, you can find them here: Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft.

Yahoo takes the stance that it will not read your email for marketing purposes, in fact, they say so bluntly in their privacy policy. They state "Yahoo!'s practice is not to use the content of messages stored in your Yahoo! Mail account for marketing purposes." The language is quite clear that Yahoo! will not scrape your information for advertising purposes. The policy does state that they do have alogriythms that scrape you content but "No person reads your email, nor is any personal information collected or stored in this process". The gist of it is that they crawlers help pull content out to make it easier to add items to address books or your calendar. 

Google's policy is a bit different than Yahoo's. Google is by far the most aggressive when it comes to serving you advertisements. When you use Google's email service the company does scan your content to serve relevant advertisements: "In Gmail, most of the ads we show appear next to an open email message and match the contents of your email. When we personalize ads, we display ads based on the contents of all your emails. For example, if you’ve recently received lots of messages about photography or cameras, we might show you a deal from a local camera store."

In a nutshell, the company uses your content to serve relative advertisements. They do this by scanning your content for keywords to then display advertisements but you do have the option to opt-out of this type of activity but it is enabled by default.

Microsoft and it's newly launched falls closer to Yahoo!'s policy but takes it another step beyond what that service provides. Microsoft does not read your email or the attachments to serve you advertisements. Microsoft takes this a step further and does not display advertisements when reading your email and as stated from the preview guide: "With, the contents of your personal conversations aren’t used to serve ads. We don’t read your messages or attachments to send you advertisements. Period."

Microsoft has taken the most conservative approach to email privacy with Yahoo! landing in the middle and Google being the most liberal of the bunch. Which service is right for you is a personal decision and ultimately, switching platforms these days is a little more than a few mouse clicks away. 

Image Credit: Shutterstock


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