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Yahoo to alert people to feedback on their posts

Yahoo follows Facebook example in notifying users when people comment or praise their activities.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills
3 min read
Yahoo's new Notifications feature lets you easily see what friends have provided feedback on your activities on Yahoo.
Yahoo's new Notifications feature lets you easily see what friends have provided feedback on your activities on Yahoo. Yahoo

Yahoo is adding a new alert feature that will let people know when others comment on their activity on Yahoo sites.

This is a new concept for Yahoo, but one that Facebook users are used to. For instance, Flickr users have to go to their Flickr page to see if anyone has commented on their photos, while Facebook users see red notification numbers at the top of their main page showing them who has sent them messages and friend requests and commented on their activity.

The new Notifications feature, launching tonight in the United States, will feature a bell icon at the top of the Yahoo page. When a user clicks on the icon, a window is displayed showing which friends have commented on posts or given a thumbs up on something the user has done on a Yahoo site, as well as stock moves the user has set alerts on.

"So now on all comments in the U.S, if I leave a comment on a Yahoo News story and someone was to comment on it or rate it, I would get a notice about that," Mike Kerns, Yahoo vice president of social, games and personalization, told CNET.

Yahoo is following Facebook's example in leveraging the amplification effect that comes when users are able to have conversations about photos, articles, and other items they and others post. The sharing means links get wider viewership and thus more eyeballs on Yahoo content.

Yahoo also is expanding the news activity feature it has integrated with Facebook to 26 additional Yahoo sites around the world. Yahoo announced at the F8 Conference in September that Yahoo News articles people read would be integrated on their Facebook pages so their friends could see what they are reading and easily click on the items to read them.

The integration with Facebook has been a boon to Yahoo News readership.

"We have increased the traffic from Facebook to Yahoo News on a monthly basis by 300 percent," Kerns said. "Before we launched this the amount of actions that were being published from Yahoo to Facebook that would occur within a month are now occurring within a day."

While some people have complained about privacy issues with Facebook's "frictionless sharing" with other sites, such as Yahoo, others don't mind at all. People in the range of 18 to 35 years old only infrequently choose to disable the sharing, according to Kerns. More than 12 million people have opted in to Yahoo News friends' activity feature since it launched, according to Yahoo. The feature is opt in and people can turn it on and off and delete items individually too.

It's likely Yahoo will be adding integration with Twitter too. "We now have a partnership with Twitter," Kerns said. "We have nothing to communicate about what we're working on right now, but there are definitely great opportunities ahead with Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are where we are focusing our energies."

Meanwhile, Yahoo will soon be adding the ability for people to create private groups to share content and communications with, according to Kerns. "We're going to be introducing Conversations in January that essentially allows people to have a conversation in a closed, private group at the points of the content itself, similar to private commenting," he said.