Mindful of the PR "fiascos" that engulfed Google Buzz and Facebook over privacy, Yahoo! is being careful to explain how changes to the way it handles status updates and social aggregation will affect users before they come into effect, according to reports.

Tech Crunch said that at present, being able to view status updates for others in Yahoo! Mail requires both parties to be online friends.

In the new version, there will be no requirement for this "mutual follow" arrangement, so, as with Twitter, users will be able to see changes from anyone else.

Yahoo! will also use an algorithm to monitor factors like online behaviour and friend networks to suggest individuals to follow.

The company’s chief privacy officer Anne Toth told Tech Crunch that there will be no surprises for users and they will be able to turn sharing on and off.

Yahoo! also aims to provide additional privacy by preventing third parties from being able to see who a particular person is following online, she added.

Last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in the Washington Post that the social network would overhaul its privacy settings after users complained that controlling their personal information was too complicated.

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