Yahoo Is Removing Email Addresses From People’s Contacts

By: Chris Crum - October 9, 2013

Yahoo has been removing contacts from Yahoo Mail users’ contacts lists without the consent of these users. We received an email about it from one angry user this morning.

The user included a message they received from Yahoo Customer Care, which said:

Yahoo! wants to make sure your address book is filled with the most current and valid emails to those family, friends and contacts you need to reach. We noticed that you had emails in your address book that are no longer valid, so we have removed them.

Email addresses that have been removed:
and %count% more.

Only retired emails have been removed. All other contact information remains.

Did you know you can import more contacts from Facebook or Gmail in two easy steps? Get started now.

“If Yahoo can get into my contacts and remove valid email addresses, what else can they take?” the user said in an email to WebProNews.

“I called Rogers, my internet provider,” the user said. “They didn’t seem to know anything about it. They gave me Yahoo’s phone number as Rogers uses Yahoo Mail. Yahoo said that it was a Yahoo initiative and they are not prepared to stop it.”

“I re-input the valid email address and when I tried to email my friend on Oct 7th, the email address had once again disappeared from my contacts,” the user said. “No warning this time….I have no idea how many email addresses that Yahoo has removed.”

“I consider this an invasion of my privacy,” the user added.

The user noted that not everyone at Rogers is aware of the issue. “I have to dig hard to get confirmation that it is actually happening. It was admitted in writing when I had a ‘live chat’ with Rogers on October 7th. Unfortunately, I became so frustrated that I did not capture the conversation. Employees that I speak with at Rogers are wowed.”

The user says her friend (the owner of the email address that Yahoo removed) is wondering how many contacts and lists she has been deleted from.

Yahoo acknowledges in its help center that it has been deleting contacts. Here’s the message:

Yahoo Deletes Contacts

Now, Yahoo claims it is only deleting invalid addresses from people’s contacts. The user insists that the one they deleted from her account was a valid address. Based on the email she sent us, her friend seems to agree. We’re still in the process of trying to confirm that it is indeed a valid address.

We’ve also reached out to Yahoo for comment, and have yet to hear back. We’ll update if we do. They do appear to acknowledge in the help center article that errors are possible, but it’s interesting that the user in question restored the address only to have it removed again.

Either way, the whole thing brings to light another issue posed by Yahoo’s email address recycling program. We’ve already seen claims of security issues that have been discovered where users are getting emails from the original account holders, sometimes containing sensitive information. Yahoo has even acknowledged that this has actually happened, and responded with a button for users to let Yahoo know when they get other people’s email. This does little to prevent bad actors from taking advantage, however.

Yahoo has received a fair amount of criticism from people in the security field over the program, which was simply designed to give its loyal users better email addresses. Now, we have people thinking that Yahoo itself is invading their privacy.

Update: Here’s the response we got from Yahoo:

“In June, we announced an opportunity for users to sign up for the Yahoo username they’ve always wanted. We’re able to do this because we’re freeing up usernames that were inactive for at least 12 months. As part of this recycling process, if an inactive account is listed within a Yahoo address book, it is automatically removed when the account is recycled. This is so that we can ensure that email is sent to the intended recipient. Any other information such as phone numbers, mailing addresses, or alternate email addresses within the contact remains.

If a user believes their Yahoo! Contacts were removed in error, we encourage them to review this help article about restoring missing contacts for more information.”

Update 2: We’ve confirmed that the address in question was indeed valid.

Images: Yahoo

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • Sharon Burrows

    I think Yahoo is out of line and invasive. If they assume users like their changes, they are dead wrong. Yahoo does not make things easier at all. Just leave things alone. It is non of Yahoos business what contacts a user has. You are anything but helpful.

    • Ralph McAdams

      A bigger worry with recycling email addresses: If I’m a bad actor I register for and get these expired emails and then try to reset passwords associated with secure “jackpot” accounts like password managers, corporate accounts, banks etc. There are surely some expired emails that are associated with those type accounts where the owner hasn’t been checking that email and forgot to change the email address on the account.

  • Charles

    Yahoo continues to go the same route as our government. Getting worse and worse. The best email WAS the Yahoo Classic. But it HAD to be ‘fixed’. Some people never learn that if ‘it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’!
    I dealt with the first ‘fix’, but this ‘fix’
    is far worse than the first one.
    I am going to have to look at other email resources and make a change. Really hate to, and have been with Yahoo many years, but this is becoming intolerable for me!

  • Loki57

    Yahoo might better deal with the security holes their pushed spyware to more invasively impose targeted ads and partner API systems have opened, along with YIM security flaws.

    Search sources like Bitsnoop, Binrand, and torrents, for terms like “Yahoo Messenger Hack”, “Yahoo password hack”, or “20 million emaillist”, and see how that affects your trust and respect for Yahoo’s priorities over the last 2 years.

    Anyone who understands how near Perfect Rainbow Table free data sources have enabled free and private MD5 hash reversal or compatible key tools will be particularly impressed by Yahoo’s reckless management priorities. Those tools and malicious users have reached a level where the net could use a security tracking service, that monitors for compromised accounts, and notifies users before hackers Botnet or phish private info or sendt SPAM. Many Webmail and ISP services have serious problems, with Yahoo among the worst recently.

  • paul

    It appears my entire address book is gone. I’m moving to gmail.

  • William Patterson

    I have not received any emails in my inbox for at least two days
    i usualy get at least ten I need this email why has yahoo not notified me if there is a problem with my email

    • Lisa

      Oh you’re getting mail, it’s just that with this stinking change YAHOO has made, you cant see your email! Now if I do a search on a particular name that I KNOW sends me email, VOILA! There’s a filter of about 10!! So WHY cant I see ALL of my email simply by clicking on my inbox!?!?! It says you have no mail! I want my old email back.

    • shelia

      some of my emails from friends working in a
      financial institution are going into my trash can
      for no reason at all as far as I am concerned.
      I was wondering why I was not hearing from them
      to find they had emailed me so I went searching
      and finally find them in the trash can

  • Gloria

    It works better when you leave it alone.

  • alf

    Evidently, Yahoo hired the same crew who approved the Susan B Anthony dollar coin. These “improvements” are nothing short of dreadful. No tabs, which I use constantly because I have to copy text between emails quite frequently; my calendar is completely gone in the Basic view; there’s no Settings gear in Basic view (and in the New view, there’s almost nothing you can do in it); a lot more keystrokes and wasted time scrolling to check and delete; ever since the last upgrade, my email was forced to the old Classic view of 50/page rather than having all available… I’ve not wanted to change because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of notifying everyone of an email address change, but I think I’m going to have to. This is ridiculous!

  • Jon Whitacre


    Three days ago, I realized that my brother’s email address was no longer in my ANNUALLY PAID FOR Yahoo email address book!!!!

    The addresses they deleted were NOT invalid addresses.

    Since then, I’ve discovered SEVERAL of my friends email addresses are ALSO GONE!!! What can be done to STOP this CRIMINAL action? I have PAID MONEY to keep my account data from getting deleted for over 12 years! How can I get my email addresses back that were STOLEN from me?

  • marilyn thomas

    Yahoo is getting lessons from the government. Doing whatever the heck they want to, even if we do not like it, and telling us how much we are going to love it. I am not a child. Leave my email the heck alone and restore things back to the way they were. Don’t love your new ideas. I swear everytime they hire someone, who can not come up with new ideas of their own, Yahoo lets them mess up what all ready works. Not the Yahoo I have been waiting for.

  • Kathy

    For those of us with limited email/computer skills, this is a nightmare!! I’ve been with Yahoo many years and now I am befuddled, exasperated, and fear security issues!!!

  • FACE

    It’s an aberration and abomination (sp?); it’s absolutely pitiful: emails getting combined (some having NOTHING to do with each other…and sometimes from TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE!!!), and cannot be separated (or retitled in the subject box), if I need to forward the contents to someone else; I’d list more, but I don’t think they’re going to listen… Yahoo Classic was very good…they should have concentrated on adding some more features, rather than changing the look and functionality!

  • tom foxe

    I wasn’t aware of the stolen addresses problem. What I hate about the new Yahoo mail is that the arrow on the right margin is too close to the bottom of the right margin, so often when I click to scroll down onr mail it sends me to another on instead. And each page doesn’t have clear tabs for the default choices, like new mail.
    And I’m fed up getting messages saying that Yahoo needs to close or is having a problem. What use is an email service you can’t rely on ? I’ll be moving from Yahoo too.

  • Ray

    A Yahoo user from the very beginning, I am now for the FIRST time thinking of leaving Yahoo mail. This new Yahoo is slow, crashes often and cumbersome to use. Yahoo WAS a great service…

  • Umeh ogechukwu.

    I have been trying to access my yahooaccount but proven abortive. Please if the owners can tell me the easiest to access my account so i can read my message. Thanks,send it to my number +2348065470246

  • Martha

    Bottom line: There is nothing to correct this? Guess again!!

  • Linn

    I get all my yahoo mail from businesses, but none from friends and family… Glad I still have my outlook account!! Is anything being done to fix this problem?

  • http://no David Dillon

    No email since October 29, 2013. This is unexpected @ nothing being done. Please help. 860•733-2121

  • Maxine Brown

    I have not received any email in 3 days, and some of my recent email has been removed. I understand that some email accounts with yahoo and gmail has been hacked. Why is it that I am not getting any more email? I had some important email missing, I’ve checked my trash and my spam, and they are not there. What is going on?

  • tori

    Yahoo mail is near-unusable a lot of the time. It freezes. It deletes emails before I open them. My cursor often cannot move around in it. It’s hard to see the attachments. Today when I tried to send something to an address, I got an error message saying there was nothing in the “To” folder. I hit the X to save it to Drafts (it doesn’t even give you a choice to delete or save anymore), and sure enough the “To” field was blank. I had to send the email from a non-Yahoo account.

    I cannot tell what time I’m marking in the Calendar, and I’m still angry that a couple years ago they deleted the calendars with no warning and I had been using mine to keep records. I will never do that again, I will just assume my personal info is not “mine” but Yahoo’s. The Groups features are largely non-functioning since Neo. They finally fixed one problem, thankfully.

    Even if an email address is invalid, Yahoo should not simply delete it with no warning, they should tell you which addresses they are going to delete. You could have reasons for holding on to old contact information. For instance, you might be trying to track someone down by their old addresses, maybe by Googling them but if they are gone you then won’t know how to find that person. You could need the addresses for legal purposes.

  • OhMyFat

    Pair this perfectly seasoned and grilled meat with your favorite sides and your favorite Shiraz and herbalife online store It’s interesting to note that while Health Secrets points repeatedly to its star spokesman, Nobel Prize winner Dr.

  • Rodolfo


    Is there no limit to Yahoo's management imbecility??… After changing format and making a mess for us users, their best incredible idea now is to come up with a blue colored inbox!!! Brilliant!!! …Too bad that gmail is so damn complicated and user unfriendly….I am changing to another service.

  • Sam Kaner

    WOW welcome to the fascist of United States under the pro democrat media.
    I never use bad language but yahoo deleted the comments option because I commented against democrats, the gay agenda, hollywood and obama. This is scary. But you can pull up porn, child porn, beastillity and othe disgusting sites that's OK? After the first of the year our healthcare has more then doubled and we have to pay for coverage we don't need or want. What are the democrats doing to this country?

  • Eutanasiati Maidanezii

    You disappeared all addresses from address book in yahoo messenger :((

  • noyahoo

    no yahoo ever. They deleted me account. No reason. No recourse. 15 years all gone.

  • Lea Dever

    Why doesn’t Yahoo leave the email alone and quit confusing everyone every time you turn around on working in their email account. I’m thinking about moving everything to gmail.

  • irritatedone

    I notice that these comments were made a year ago. I have just experienced a similar situation. For about a week now I have been trying to sent emails to various individuals and have been unable to do that. Normally,as i entered an initial, the email address would just fall into place. I realize that no longer happened so I decided to check my contacts only to see that they were all missing. Why? many of these were active email connects and what has been more appalling ! – no form of notification. I will just resort to another service!

  • Giri

    All of my contact are deleted without any notice. Where are they gone?