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Did Yahoo just shut down basic email forwarding to stop users from leaving?

Updated Oct 12th, 2016 6:22AM EDT
Yahoo Mail Email Forwarding

Two massive security and privacy scandals hit Yahoo in the past weeks, and each one of them is a good enough reason to leave Yahoo Mail and your Yahoo properties behind and never look back. First, Yahoo had to admit that around 500 million accounts were hacked back in 2014. Then, reports revealed that the government pressured Yahoo into spying on all its users — the company did so by modifying its anti-malware tool to scan emails for accounts belonging to terrorist groups.

Yahoo proved it can’t keep Yahoo Mail secure, and that it can’t fight the government on your behalf. Naturally, some users opted to leave the service. But they soon discovered that Yahoo shut down email forwarding, a basic email feature that has been around for ages.

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“This is all extremely suspicious timing,” Jason Danner, who runs an IT company and used Yahoo Mail for 18 years, told LA Times.

Yahoo pointed to a “three-line notice” on its help site that says the company temporarily disabled it “while we work to improve it.”

Forwarding email from one address to a different one is a feature that makes sure you won’t miss any emails while transitioning from one email provider to a different one. It’s “a basic concept for 15 years for just about every email provider out there,” according to technology business owner Brian McIntosh, who first alerted Associated Press about the matter.

“All of a sudden it’s under development,” he told the Times. “And only at Yahoo.”

It’s not clear at this time how many users have left Yahoo since the recent disclosures. But blocking email forwarding will certainly not stop them from ditching Yahoo Mail. In fact, you only need to set up an out-of-office message on your Yahoo account that contains your new email address. After a while, you can terminate your Yahoo account, Yahoo Mail included, by following these steps.

UPDATE: A Yahoo spokesperson said the email forwarding feature will be enabled after the company is done upgrading it. “We’re working to get auto-forward back up and running as soon as possible because we know how useful it can be to our users,” the representative said. The feature was temporary disabled as part of previously planned maintenance to improve its functionality between a user’s various accounts. Users can expect an update to the auto-forward functionality soon. In the meantime, we continue to support multiple account management.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.