Do you remember Yahoo? The company tried to remind us of its existence by changing its logo last month. For some reason detailed below, I tried to reset my Yahoo account password and log in. The experience, even after all these years, was enough to remind me why all the smart people moved away from Yahoo and its services.
I tried to log in today to my Flickr account. If you didn’t know, Flickr is a photo-sharing service. It had a vibrant community, but the service came under fire when its new owners, SmugMug — who bought it from Yahoo, decided that free users should not be able to upload more than 1000 photos. That is a massive drop from Yahoo’s previously imposed 1 TB of free storage for all users.
After the decision was announced, many people decided that was the end of Flickr and moved their content away. I wasn’t over the 1,000 photo limit, but what struck me was the fact that SmugMug said it’d delete all photos from free accounts that exceeded the 1,000 photos limit.
Now, that’s an approach I absolutely hate. I get if you don’t allow people to upload more content when they’re over the limit, but threatening the deletion of people’s photos if they don’t pay — that’s the last straw. I didn’t want to be active anymore on a platform that can threaten to throw away the community’s content. So I stopped uploading new photos in favor of my own site.
Today, I wanted to log in to Flickr to request my data and then delete my account once I got them. I wasn’t prepared for the trouble that was ahead.
Botched login and password reset attempts
First of all, I made a mistake when trying to log in. Flickr introduced its own login system — separate from Yahoo accounts — a while back, and I had disconnected my Yahoo account from Flickr. I didn’t remember it, so I was trying to log in using my Yahoo account. Of course, I didn’t remember its password. So I opened a new tab to mail.yahoo.com to request a password reset.
I had my phone number and backup email address stored on the Yahoo account. I first tried to receive a recovery code to my email. After two attempts, all I received in my phone was the letter “V”. That’s it, nothing else. No code, no message, nada.
I tried a couple more times only to receive the same “V” message from different phone numbers. At this point, I wasn’t sure what Yahoo had achieved recently that called for a “V” sign. 🤔
Failing to get the code to my phone, I chose the email route. This time, the email arrived with the verification code. I entered the code into Yahoo and expected to see the screen for setting a new password.
Instead, Yahoo took me to its “redesigned” Yahoo Mail inbox. It also showed me a warning that all my previous emails had been deleted since it was more than 12 months since my last login.
This deserves an angry paragraph of its own. I get when Dropbox wants to delete files from an inactive account. Why would an email service delete all the emails due to inactivity? “Cause it’s Yahoo,” I told myself and moved on. I had nothing important there other than spams. I was glad I had no important emails or else I’d be losing my cool right now.
In an attempt to reset my password, I headed over to the accounts section, only to discover that my account was passwordless. They had what’s called an ‘Account key’ active on my account.
The way an account key works is that if you’re signed into one of the Yahoo apps on your phone, you could get a verification code sent to the app and use that to log in to Yahoo on the web. I set it up when I had the Flickr app installed on my phone.
Remember when I said that I had already disconnected Yahoo from my Flickr account? I was surprised why it was still on since I had no active Yahoo apps on my phone anymore. When I tried to disable it, surely enough, it told me I had no active apps on my phone from Yahoo.
When I tried to disable it again, it said I’d need to set up a password. Finally! I opened up 1Password and generated random password. I entered it, clicked the button to change the password, and got kicked back to the login screen.
“Fair enough,” I thought. I’d need to log in now with my new credentials.
Guess what, it wasn’t accepting my new password. Every time I entered my new password, it just kicked me back to the “enter your email address” screen. No errors or anything at all.
I opened a new tab, requested another password reset, and only this time, it worked. I was able to log in successfully.
You could argue that it didn’t ask me to change my password the first time because my account had Account Key active. But then again, I had no active Yahoo apps on my phone. The only app on my phone was Flickr, which Yahoo knew had been disconnected from my Yahoo account. It was weird that the account still had this enabled.
Even after I disabled Account Key, I have no idea why it didn’t accept my newly reset password. I tried different browsers, just to be safe that it wasn’t a cache issue.
Lastly, I don’t understand why Yahoo had to remove my entire email inbox. It’s not like I had gigabytes of storage there. Even if I did, it doesn’t make sense for Yahoo to delete all previous emails just because of 12 months of inactivity.
In any case, I figured out all this was for nothing since I’d disconnected Yahoo from Flickr. But that’s okay. I’ll keep the Yahoo Mail account for now so that I can use that when signing up to test services when I know will be spamming me later.
After all, spams, like garbages, deserve to go to a place that will be cleaned out after a while.