Verizon, which bought Yahoo In 2017, has suspended email addresses of archivists who are trying to preserve 20 years of content that will be deleted permanently in a few weeks.
As Verizon announced in October, the company intends to wipe all content from Yahoo Groups. As of December 14, all previously posted content on the site will be permanently removed.
The mass deletion includes files, polls, links, photos, folders, database, calendar, attachments, conversations, email updates, message digests, and message histories that was uploaded to Yahoo servers since pre-Google 1990s.
Verizon planned to allow users to download their own data from the site’s privacy dashboard, but apparently it has a problem with the work of The Archive Team who wants to save content to upload it to the non-profit Internet Archive, which runs the popular Wayback Machine site.
“Yahoo banned all the email addresses that the Archive Team volunteers had been using to join Yahoo Groups in order to download data,” reported the Yahoo Groups Archive Team.
“Verizon has also made it impossible for the Archive Team to continue using semi-automated scripts to join Yahoo Groups – which means each group must be rejoined one by one, an impossible task (redo the work of the past four weeks over the next 10 days).”
News of the apparently aggressive move from Verizon was first reported on boingboing.net.
The Yahoo Groups Archive Team argues that it is facing a near total “80% loss of data” because Verizon is blocking the team members’ email accounts.
The Yahoo Groups site isn’t widely used today but it was in the past. The size of the archive that the group is trying to save is substantial and the group had saved about 1.8 billion messages as of late 2018.
According to the Archive Team: “As of 2019-10-16 the directory lists 5,619,351 groups. 2,752,112 of them have been discovered. 1,483,853 (54%) have public message archives with an estimated number of 2.1 billion messages (1,389 messages per group on average so far). 1.8 billion messages (86%) have been archived as of 2018-10-28.”
Verizon has issued a statement to the group supporting the Archive Team, telling concerned archivists that “the resources needed to maintain historical content from Yahoo Groups pages is cost-prohibitive, as they’re largely unused”.
The telecoms giant also said the people booted from the service had violated its terms of service and suggested the number of users affected was small.
“Regarding the 128 people who joined Yahoo Groups with the goal to archive them – are those people from Archiveteam.org? If so, their actions violated our Terms of Service. Because of this violation, we are unable reauthorize them,” Verizon said.