Hey, all you Yahoo mail users out there. I just found out that Yahoo Mail (you know, the thing you thought you were using just for e-mail) is now pretending to be Facebook and being, if possible, even worse than Facebook about privacy. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Yahoo mail is making available to the public your birthday, including your age, and your location without your permission. Those under age 18 do not have their age displayed. You can get it to hide your age if you are over 18, but the location and the birthday day and month will continue to be publicly available information. Your only recourse is to put in a phony location and birthday, which I think is perfectly justified, considering that the information is no one else's business and certainly is not something Yahoo has the right unilaterally to publish.
Naturally, if you start using their posting option and posting "statuses" (see the Facebook envy coming out?), adding more information to your profile, and the like, you'll have to encounter a whole web of privacy settings and such, which I have no interest in mastering, so I just don't use those features.
It's particularly outrageous that minor children have their locations displayed as part of their public profile without their or their parents' consent now on Yahoo, and the only way to get around this is to discover it and enter something like "Undisclosed Locationville, AK," on your child's profile. I find this really angering.
So far, Google mail has not jumped on this bandwagon all the way. Gmail has added a "buzz" feature which is similar, but here's the difference: Thus far, gmail does not automatically generate a public profile for you without your consent, as Yahoo did. You have to create such a profile deliberately if you want to use the "buzz" feature, so if you just don't use that feature, you don't have a gmail profile. Of course, if you have a blogger account, such as the one I have for this blog, you already have a Google profile, but you made that one on purpose and can control its contents. So Yahoo gets my thumbs down and Gmail my thumbs up on the privacy front.