Ever wondered if your Instant Messaging chats are being tracked or monitored? It seems that Yahoo! Messenger is already doing so by automatically deleting instant messages referring to the FilesTube site. According to a report which first emerged on TorrentFreak:
Those who try to paste a FilesTube link to their contacts in the Messenger app will notice that it never reaches its destination. The link goes directly into Yahoo’s dark hole and neither end of the conversation is alerted to this “feature”.
FilesTube is a Polish operated meta-search engine which doesn’t actually host its own material and according to TorrentFreak, even honors U.S. DMCA requests to remove searches related to copyrighted material.
At Softonic, we did our own little test and sure enough, we found that links to FilesTube were not being received in IM chats:
TorrentFreak however claim that the auto-deletion appears to be applied randomly. In their own tests sending FilesTube links to their contacts, they claim they had no problems in getting them through.
Some users may be outraged at what they see as outright censorship but it could be argued that Yahoo! are merely “pre-empting” any risk of them being accused of facilitating privacy in the future. However, this is a difficult argument to make as a) It seems like its only FilesTube that’s been targeted and b) FilesTube is a meta-search engine and doesn’t actually host its own material – there are far worse sites out there when it comes to piracy.
Apart from the questions this incident raises over privacy, auto-deleting certain terms also doesn’t seem like a particularly effective way of stopping users exchanging links from certain sites. The most obvious solution for users would be to use a URL shortening service like TinyURL when sending FilesTube links.
It should be stressed that at the moment, the issue seems isolated to FilesTube links and not to any other sites. However, if you are concerned about Yahoo! censoring IM chats, you can always use an IM service based on the Jabber open source protocol such as Trillian or Pidgin.