Yahoo is blocking users out of their own Yahoo Mail accounts until they disable any ad-blocking software being used.
After several users of the email service complained on social media, Yahoo released the following statement to the Washington Post: “At Yahoo, we are continually developing and testing new product experiences. This is a test we’re running for a small number of Yahoo Mail users.”
Small-scale tests and experiments on select groups of users are nothing new to free online services, and Facebook has been heavily criticized in the past for their secret mood-changing experiments which aimed to see whether reducing the amount of ‘happy’ content on a user’s screen would affect their mood.
The effort to counteract ad-blocking tools could be the first significant strike back from free internet services that rely on the revenue to exist, however. There hasn’t been much in the way of aggressive resistance to such applications from companies relying on advertisements for fear of losing their audience. Many have instead attempted to adapt to the situation by showing messages that ask for visitors to turn off the tools or to support them in a different way, but if Yahoo follows through with their experiment, it could be taken as the start of a major corporate resistance.
Yahoo apparently isn’t violating any laws in locking out ad-block users from their email service. Internet specialist attorney Ansel Halliburton told the Washington Post, “it’s not as if the company is violating any part of its legal agreement with consumers by making this request; in fact, in some cases, consumers may be in breach of contract for using ad-blockers.”
Halliburton goes on to explain that whenever he writes a terms of service, he puts that statement clearly in, but not for the ability to sue the millions of people who use such blocking technology. “It gives them some leverage to block the blockers,” says Halliburton.
Yahoo is facing a backlash from users for this experiment, and it is unclear as to whether the company will advance upon it. Regardless, it appears digital services are starting to fight back on ad-blocking technology.
Charlie Nash is a British libertarian writer, memeologist, and child prodigy. When he is not writing, he can usually be found chilling at the Korova Milk Bar, mingling with the elite of society. You can follow him on Twitter here @MrNashington.