Yahoo! Messenger Safety Guide

What is Yahoo! Messenger?

Yahoo! Messenger is a tool you can use to easily communicate with friends and family around the world. You can chat in real time, make high-quality video calls, update your status and see your friends’ updates, send SMS messages, and share photos and files instantly.

Everyone using Yahoo! Messenger must follow the Yahoo! Terms of Service.

What are some potential risks on Yahoo! Messenger?

Just as there may be risks in the town where you live, the Yahoo! Messenger community may pose certain risks. Yahoo! Messenger safety features but you have to take an active role in protecting yourself online too.

Start by reviewing some general practices for online safety, and when you use Yahoo! Messenger, be aware of these issues:

  • Personal information. Don’t give out personal information when exchanging instant messages with unknown people. A stranger could use this information to find your physical location.
  • Harassment. Other Yahoo! Messenger users can see when you are online unless you change the Messenger preferences to ignore anyone not on your Messenger List. If unknown people contact you, they might say unpleasant, sexually suggestive, or abusive things. Think carefully about who you want to communicate with and who to ignore. Also avoid clicking on links sent by strangers because these could be spam, viruses, or annoying websites.
  • Mature content. You could receive files that may contain viruses, malware, or explicit photos through Yahoo! Messenger. Only open files and photos from trusted contacts. If you receive inappropriate material, please report the abuse to Yahoo!.
  • Voice calls. Yahoo! Messenger offers built-in voice calling. Unless your preferences are set to ignore unknown people, you could receive calls or voice messages that contain unpleasant, sexually suggestive, or abusive language. Think carefully about who you want to communicate with and who to ignore. Please note that 911 emergency services are not available through Yahoo! Messenger’s voice calling.
  • Webcam. Yahoo! Messenger lets people use webcams to show videos of themselves to the Yahoo! community. If you use a webcam and have contact with strangers, they might try to convince you to pose or act in an inappropriate manner. If you view others’ webcams, you might be exposed to sexually explicit images.
  • Chat. Yahoo! Messenger has chat features, but Yahoo! members under the age of 18 are not permitted to use chat. In online chat you could encounter unpleasant, sexually suggestive, or abusive language, and chat opens you up to people who might try to contact you by phone or in person. To find a safer place for younger people to chat, browse Yahoo! Kids’ chat category.
  • Payments. Yahoo! Messenger offers premium, fee-based voice calling services that require a credit card for payment on Yahoo! Wallet. If you're using someone else's credit card to pay for fees, make sure you have this person's permission first.

What can be done to limit these risks? Review Yahoo! Messenger’s safety features, learn how to report abuse, and ask your family for help staying safer using Yahoo! Messenger.

What safety features should I know about to help protect myself on Yahoo! Messenger?

Yahoo! Messenger has a number of safety features. You should be able to do the following actions. For more information, please refer to Yahoo! Messenger Help for step-by-step instructions:

  • Use an avatar. An avatar is a custom cartoon character that can represent you on Yahoo! Messenger in place of a real, identifiable photo. Yahoo! Avatars lets you create a personalized character to represent yourself.
  • Use an alias. An alias can be used in place of you real Yahoo! ID when you IM with people. To use an alias, click the Send As menu on the bottom of the screen before typing a message. If you don’t have an alias, you can create one by selecting My Profiles on the Messenger menu and following the instructions to Create/Edit My Profiles. An alias without any personally identifiable information is best. For example, instead of "tedjones1992dallas," try something more generic like "bluesky50." Learn more about choosing an online ID.
  • Change online status. People on your Messenger List can see your online status (“Available,” "Not at My Desk,” etc.). For additional privacy — or to avoid distractions during work— set your online status to “Invisible.”
  • Avoid contact with unpleasant people. You have several ways to avoid people who make inappropriate or unpleasant posts or who simply won’t go away. Change your online status to “Invisible,” use stealth settings to appear offline to some people, ignore specific users or anyone not on your Messenger List, or delete a contact entirely.
  • Archive instant messages. If archiving is turned on, Yahoo! Messenger will automatically save all IM conversations. If someone makes inappropriate, offensive, harassing, or sexually explicit comments to you, you can review the saved conversation. Make sure to send a copy of these IMs when you report the abuse.

Yahoo! Messenger offers voice calling. If you use this service, you should know how to:

  • Ignore users. Stop calls from specific people or, for more privacy, block anyone who is not on your Messenger List.
  • Set Caller ID. Change settings to identify the origin of incoming calls and hide contact information on outgoing calls.
  • View call history. Turn on archiving to save old voice messages and a list of past calls.

Yahoo! Messenger can install and use a webcam. If you use a webcam, place the computer and webcam in a public area of your home so others can see what’s going on. In addition, make sure that you know how to:

  • Control who can watch. Specify who can watch the webcam and make anyone else ask for permission. Many webcams come with software that shows who is watching, as well as features to block people who try to watch as “anonymous.”
  • Manage Yahoo! Messenger’s status message. Don't allow people to see that you have a webcam. Select Preferences on the Messenger menu. On the Webcam tab, uncheck the box next to When I show my webcam, change my status message to:.
  • Ignore people. Prevent specific people from asking to view your webcam or, for more privacy, block anyone who is not on your Messenger List.

Yahoo! Messenger contains features for joining chat rooms, however, Yahoo! members under the age of 18 are not permitted to use Yahoo! Chat. To learn more about chat, please review Yahoo! Chat’s general safety precautions. To find a safer place for younger people to chat, browse Yahoo! Kids’ chat category.

Yahoo! Messenger is integrated with Yahoo! Updates which provides a stream of people’s activity, based mostly on public content they’ve created on Yahoo!. You can see updates from all your Messenger friends.

Check your Updates settings and make sure you know who can see what you’re publishing. The default settings allow anyone to see your updates (this is for people over 18; we have age-appropriate settings for those under 18). But you can easily limit who sees your updates either by editing the controls for each specific activity (like sharing photos on Flickr or commenting on Yahoo! News articles) or by turning your updates off entirely.

How can I report problems that I encounter on Yahoo! Messenger?

Yahoo! Messenger has a customer care form to report abuse. Please complete this form if you are exposed to obscene language, mature content, threats of physical violence, harassment, or anything else that violates the Yahoo! Terms of Service. Make sure to provide specific information about the location of the offending content and the identity of the user in question.

When you get a message from someone who's not in your Messenger List, you'll see two links at the top of the conversation area: Add to Your Messenger List and Report as Spam. Click Report as Spam. This automatically adds the sender's ID to your Ignore List. You won't receive more IMs from that ID.

To provide details of the abuse you're experiencing, go to the Contact Yahoo! Customer Care page and find the Abuse Support link.

Yahoo!’s customer care team takes appropriate action as necessary, which may include deactivating an abuser’s account. Reports that indicate activity involving child pornography or solicitation of a minor are dealt with promptly by Yahoo!’s legal team and, when appropriate, reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

What can I do use Yahoo! Messenger in a safer manner?

Yahoo! is committed to providing a safer online experience for everyone and, accordingly, complies with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Yahoo! Messenger provides a number of safety features to limit potential risks. However, protecting young people online is a responsibility shared with parents, teachers, and other caregivers.

You should start by learning some basic practices for online safety. These include safeguarding your identity online, keeping passwords secret, being cautious about contact with strangers, and creating a family pledge for online safety.

You can also archive your instant message conversations and voice calling and voice message history and review these with your family.

If you are exposed to obscene language, mature content, threats of physical violence, harassment, or anything else that violates the Yahoo! Messenger Terms of Service, please report the abuse.

Latest News


Do you spend more time on your phone or on the computer?

Poll Choice Options