Yahoo Mail site lets visitors visualize global email flow

Visitors can see Yahoo Mail usage volume on maps and graphs, and see data tidbits and trending keywords

Yahoo plans to open a site that lets people see on an interactive world map the volume of e-mail that the company's Mail service is processing.

The site also includes graphs and lets visitors drill down on map regions to obtain more data about Yahoo Mail usage in specific parts of the world.

People can filter the data to see only the volume of legitimate messages or of blocked spam messages. Another feature displays the most popular subject line keywords.

On average, Yahoo Mail processes 70,000 messages per second, or about 6 billion per day from its 300 million users around the world, said David McDowell, senior director of product management for Yahoo Mail.

For each valid message it delivers, Yahoo Mail blocks four spam messages, thanks in large part to the company's use of Hadoop, the open source software framework for applications that manage massive amounts of data, which the company calls the "brain" behind Yahoo Mail.

"This site is about visualizing the amount of data we're processing to protect our users from spammers and phishers," McDowell said.

All the data available on the site is in aggregate, anonymized form. None of it can be tracked back to individual users. Third parties have no access to the site's data.

The data on the site is delayed by about 1 hour, so it's not exactly displayed in real time.

Yahoo plans to offer similar visualization sites for other of its sites in the future, McDowell said.

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