Breaking up can be hard to do, especially when one party is unwilling to let go. Users of Yahoo’s email service are learning that lesson the hard way, as the company has discontinued its email forwarding functionality, at least for the time being.
Since the beginning of this month, several account holders have reported that they can no longer activate mail forwarding. As for Yahoo, the company is staying quiet about the development, other than issuing a tersely worded statement on its help page.
According to the statement, the feature has been temporarily disabled and is currently “under development” while the company works to improve it. Users who have already activated mail forwarding, however, will still have their emails forwarded, the company said.
The Autumn of Yahoo’s Discontent
The timing of the decision raises some questions. The service has been on the receiving end of a number of negative headlines over the last several weeks, including a September announcement that personal data from at least half a billion user accounts had been hacked. The attack is one of the worst in history, and may stretch back up to two years. The company blamed the data breach on the work of a state-sponsored group.
A few weeks later, that revelation was followed by the news that the company had been working with the U.S. government to surreptitiously scan the contents of the emails of hundreds of millions of users.
The combination of those scandals has likely sent more than a few Yahoo customers rushing for the doors. However, many users are now finding that they are being blocked from forwarding their emails to different accounts.
A Merger Threatened
The move could be an attempt at damage control, if there is indeed a major exodus of Yahoo users looking to abandon the service. The company finds itself in a precarious position at the moment as it is still in the process of selling itself to wireless carrier Verizon.
The recent disclosures have reportedly thrown a monkey wrench into the deal, with Verizon looking for either a $1 billion discount on the pending $4.8 billion acquisition, or a way to back out entirely. The carrier had been looking to make Yahoo part of AOL, another Internet property it recently acquired but has not yet fully integrated.
The news over the last few months most likely makes Yahoo appear a lot less appealing to Verizon. Reportedly, one of the primary reasons Verizon had been been interested in adding Yahoo to the AOL division was to build an Internet giant large enough to compete with the likes of Facebook and Google.
But if the recent headlines are making Yahoo hemorrhage users, Verizon is more likely to view the company as damaged goods before the sale is completed. That could be reason enough for Yahoo to try to staunch the bleeding, even if only temporarily.