The multinational Internet corporation Yahoo! has received criticism for a variety of issues.
In March 2004, Yahoo! launched a paid inclusion program whereby commercial websites were guaranteed listings on the Yahoo! search engine after payment. This scheme was lucrative but proved unpopular both with website marketers (who were reluctant to pay), and the public (who were unhappy about the paid-for listings being indistinguishable from other search results). As of October 2006, Paid Inclusion ceased to guarantee any commercial listing and only helped the paid inclusion customers, by crawling their site more often and by providing some statistics on the searches that led to the page and some additional smart links (provided by customers as feeds) below the actual URL.
Yahoo! has also been criticized for funding spyware and adware — advertising from Yahoo!'s clients often appears on-screen in pop-ups generated from adware that a user may have installed on their computer without realizing it by accepting online offers to download software to fix computer clocks or improve computer security, add browser enhancements, etc. The frequency of advertising pop-ups for spyware, generated from a partnership with advertising distributor Walnut Ventures, who had a direct partnership with Direct Revenue, could be increased or decreased based on Yahoo!'s immediate revenue needs, according to some former employees in Yahoo!'s sales department.
While technologically and financially you [Yahoo] are giants, morally you are pygmies
It's complicated.— Michael Callaham, General Counsel, Yahoo!, testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee (2007)
Unlike Google or Microsoft, which generally keep confidential records of its users outside mainland China, Yahoo! stated that the company cannot protect the privacy and confidentiality of its mainland Chinese customers from the authorities.
Critics say that the companies put profits before principles. Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders state that it is "ironic that companies whose existence depends on freedom of information and expression have taken on the role of censor."
In September 2005, Reporters Without Borders reported the following story. In April 2005, Shi Tao, a journalist working for a Chinese newspaper, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Changsha Intermediate People's Court of Hunan Province, China (First trial case no. 29), for "providing state secrets to foreign entities". The "secrets" were a brief list of censorship orders he sent from a Yahoo! Mail account to the Asia Democracy Forum before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
The verdict as published by the Chinese government stated the following. Shi Tao had sent the email through an anonymous Yahoo! account. Yahoo! Holdings (the Hong Kong subsidiary of Yahoo) told the Chinese government that the IP address used to send the email was registered by the Hunan newspaper that Shi Tao worked for. Police went straight to his offices and picked him up.
In February 2006, Yahoo! General Counsel submitted a statement to the U.S. Congress in which Yahoo! denied knowing the true nature of the case against Shi Tao. In April 2006, Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) was investigated by Hong Kong's Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.
On 2 June 2006, the union representing journalists in the UK and Ireland (NUJ) called on its 40,000 members to boycott all Yahoo! Inc. products and services to protest the Internet company's reported actions in China.
In July 2007, evidence surfaced detailing the warrant which the Chinese authorities sent to Yahoo! officials, highlighting "State Secrets" as the charge against Shi Tao. The warrant requests "Email account registration information for email@example.com, all login times, corresponding IP addresses, and relevant email content from February 22, 2004 to present." Analyst reports and human rights organizations have said that this evidence directly contradicts Yahoo!'s testimony before the U.S. Congress in February 2006.
Yahoo! contends it must respect the laws of governments in jurisdictions where it is operating.
Criticism of Yahoo! intensified in February 2006 when Reporters Without Borders released Chinese court documents stating that Yahoo! aided Chinese authorities in the case of dissident Li Zhi. In December 2003 Li Zhi was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for "inciting subversion".
In 2000 and 2001, Wang, who was an engineer by profession, posted electronic journals in a Yahoo! group calling for democratic reform and an end to single-party rule. He was arrested in September 2002 after Yahoo! assisted Chinese authorities by providing information. In September 2003, Wang was convicted of charges of "incitement to subvert state power" and sentenced to ten years in prison.
On April 18, 2007, Xiaoning's wife Yu Ling sued Yahoo! under human rights laws in federal court in San Francisco, California, United States. Wang Xiaoning is named as a plaintiff in the Yahoo! suit, which was filed with help from the World Organization for Human Rights USA. "Yahoo! is guilty of 'an act of corporate irresponsibility,' said Morton Sklar, executive director of the group. "Yahoo! had reason to know that if they provided China with identification information that those individuals would be arrested."
Yahoo!'s decision to assist China's authoritarian government came as part of a policy of reconciling its services with the Chinese government's policies. This came after China blocked Yahoo! services for a time. As reported in The Washington Post and many media sources:
Human rights organizations groups are basing their case on a 217-year-old U.S. law to punish corporations for human rights violations abroad, an effort the Bush administration has opposed:
On August 28, 2007, the World Organization for Human Rights sued Yahoo! for allegedly passing information (email and IP address) with the Chinese government that caused the arrests of writers and dissidents. The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco for journalists, Shi Tao, and Wang Xiaoning. Yahoo! stated that it supported privacy and free expression for it worked with other technology companies to solve human rights concerns.
On November 6, 2007, the US congressional panel criticised Yahoo! for not giving full details to the House Foreign Affairs Committee the previous year, stating it had been "at best inexcusably negligent" and at worst "deceptive".
As a result of media scrutiny relating to Internet child predators and a lack of significant ad revenues, Yahoo!'s "user created" chatrooms were closed down in June 2005. Yahoo! News' message board section was closed December 19, 2006, due to the trolling phenomenon. In addition, in mid-October, 2008, Yahoo! deleted all information in millions of user profiles with no advance notice and little explanation.
On May 25, 2006, Yahoo!'s image search was criticized for bringing up sexually explicit images even when SafeSearch was on. This was discovered by a teacher who was intending to use the service with a class to search for "www". Yahoo!'s response to this was, "Yahoo! is aware of this issue and is working to resolve it as quickly as possible".
Yahoo! is a 14.95% owner of Alibaba, which facilitates the sale of shark-derived products. After investing in Alibaba, Yahoo! executives were asked about this issue, and responded: "We know the sale of shark products is both legal in Asia and a centuries-old tradition. This issue is largely a cultural-practices one."
Geocities was a popular web hosting service founded in 1994. At one point it was the third most-browsed site on the World Wide Web. Yahoo! later purchased Geocities in 1999. Ten years later Yahoo! closed Geocities, deleting millions of web pages in the process. In September 2009, a month before it was closed, GeoCities received 10,477,049 unique visitors.
In August 2010 Yahoo! Groups started rolling out a major software change. This change was denounced by a vast majority of users. On September 29, 2010, Jim Stoneham, Vice President of Yahoo!'s Communities products, announced that based on members feedback, Yahoo! Groups would be rolling back the recent changes.
On 20 May 2013, Flickr, Yahoo!'s image and video hosting website, unveiled a redesigned layout and additional features, including one terabyte of free storage for all users, seamless photostream, cover photo and updated Android App. The redesigned layout fills the page with dynamically re-sized photos and, on the home page, displays recent comments on photos. Tech Radar described the new style Flickr as representing a "sea change" in its purpose. Many users criticized the changes, and the site's help forum received thousands of negative comments.
Yahoo! Answers underwent a format change in early September 2013. The new format has been criticized for being aesthetically unattractive and difficult to navigate. The color scheme was changed from green to purple.
In January 2014, a large scale malware attack was discovered by Fox IT in the Netherlands that was targeted at Java and dated back to December 30, 2013, especially affecting users in Romania, France, and the UK and being delivered to 300,000 Yahoo! users per hour when they discovered it. Yahoo! was criticized for not providing any public guidance on the number of users affected or advice on what the affected users should do.
In December 2016 Yahoo forces users of this email service to include a phone number; otherwise they cannot access their e-mail account.
The company reported two major data breaches of user account data to hackers during the second half of 2016. The first announced breach, reported in September 2016, had occurred sometime in late 2014, and affected over 500 million Yahoo! user accounts. A separate data breach, occurring earlier around August 2013, was reported in December 2016, and affected over 1 billion user accounts. Both breaches are considered the largest discovered in the history of the Internet. Specific details of material taken include names, email addresses, telephone numbers, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers, dates of birth, and encrypted passwords. Further, Yahoo! reported that the late 2014 breach likely used manufactured web cookies to falsify login credentials, allowing hackers to gain access to any account without a password.
Yahoo! has been criticized for their late disclosure of the breaches and their security measures, and is currently facing several lawsuits as well as investigation by members of the United States Congress. The breaches have also put into question Verizon Communications's July 2016 plans to acquire Yahoo! for about $4.8 billion.
Yahoo Terms of Service allow them to cancel user's account, without notice, and their own discretion. Some users lost access to their data (including personal pictures) without any chance to access them
Criticism of Facebook stems from the company's prominence and has led to international media coverage and significant reporting of its legal troubles and the outsize influence it has on the lives and health of its users and employees, as well on its influence on the way media, specifically news, is reported and distributed. Notable issues include Internet privacy, such as its use of a widespread "like" button on third-party websites tracking users, possible indefinite records of user information, automatic facial recognition software, and its role in the workplace, including employer-employee account disclosure.The use of Facebook can have psychological effects, including feelings of jealousy and stress, a lack of attention, and social media addiction, in some cases comparable to drug addiction.Facebook's operations have also received coverage. The company's electricity usage, tax avoidance, real-name user requirement policies, censorship policies, handling of user data, and its involvement in the United States PRISM surveillance program have been highlighted by the media and by critics. Facebook has come under scrutiny for 'ignoring' or shirking its responsibility for the content posted on its platform, including copyright and intellectual property infringement, hate speech, incitement of rape and terrorism, fake news, Facebook murder, crimes and violent incidents live-streamed through its Facebook Live functionality.The company and its employees have also been subject to litigation cases over the years, with its most prominent case concerning allegations that CEO Mark Zuckerberg broke an oral contract with Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra to build the then-named "HarvardConnection" social network in 2004, instead allegedly opting to steal the idea and code to launch Facebook months before HarvardConnection began. The original lawsuit was eventually settled in 2009, with Facebook paying approximately $20 million in cash and 1.25 million shares. A new lawsuit in 2011 was dismissed. Some critics make predictions of Facebook's end based on the problems which they identify.
Facebook has been banned by several governments for various reasons, including Syria, China, and Iran.Criticism of Microsoft
Criticism of Microsoft has followed various aspects of its products and business practices. Issues with ease of use, robustness, and security of the company's software are common targets for critics. In the 2000s, a number of malware mishaps targeted security flaws in Windows and other products. Microsoft was also accused of locking vendors and consumers in to their products, and of not following or complying with existing standards in its software. Total cost of ownership comparisons between Linux and Microsoft Windows are a continuous point of debate.The company has been the subject of numerous lawsuits, brought by several governments and by other companies, for unlawful monopolistic practices. In 2004, the European Union found Microsoft guilty in the European Union Microsoft competition case. Additionally, EULAs for Microsoft programs are often criticized for being too restrictive.High-Tech Bridge
High-Tech Bridge SA is a web security company based in Geneva, Switzerland that develops Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence technologies for application security via its AST platform ImmuniWeb AI. Started in December 2007 as a vendor-neutral penetration testing boutique, High-Tech Bridge was named an Industry Leader and Best Service Provider among ethical hacking and penetration testing companies by Frost & Sullivan's market research in 2012.Privacy concerns regarding Google
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