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Censorship

AOL Allegedly Censors 'Email Tax' Opponents 162

Posted by Zonk
from the dirty-pool dept.
Mediacitizen writes "AOL was accused yesterday of censoring email to AOL customers that included a link to a site opposing AOL's proposed 'email tax.' Over 300 people reported that they had tried sending AOL subscribers messages that contained a link to www.DearAOL.com, but received a bounceback message informing them that their email 'failed permanently.' After the DearAOL.com Coalition -- 600 organizations convened by Free Press, MoveOn and EFF -- notified the press of this blocking, AOL quickly cleared the opposition URL from their filters, alleging a 'software glitch.'"
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AOL Allegedly Censors 'Email Tax' Opponents

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  • by Komarechka (967622) * on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:33AM (#15129686) Homepage
    "software glitch"? Right. That's the most pathetic attempt at damage control I've seen in quite a while. I do agree that something has to be done about unwanted e-mails that keep flooding my inbox (my main e-mail address gets about 300 such e-mails a day) but AOL is driving down a road that will further alienate them from their users. By pulling stunts like this, they clearly demonstrate their motives as benefiting themselves and not the customers.

    This does not bode well for the acceptance of e-mail tax. As if the general public wasn't against it in the first place.
    • By pulling stunts like this, they clearly demonstrate their motives as benefiting themselves and not the customers.

      Because you had doubts? AOL is a for-profit organization, not a charity. Corporations do the most heinous, immoral things if they can get away with it. When they can't get away with it, they don't do it, not because they're afraid to look bad, but because it displeases customers and therefore hurts the bottomline.

      In short: it's all about money.
    • If you consider the AOL's CEO's brain as "software" :P
    • by mrowton (828923) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:47AM (#15129822) Homepage
      Gmail would obviously never do this. I don't *think hotmail or yahoo would either. As users get more educated about webmail and spam then they will start making more intelligent decisions over who handles their e-mail. So in a way I'm glad AOL is doing this. Its just going to speed up the process of natural selection and webmail providers.
    • by crackerjack911 (49510) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:50AM (#15129852)
      Well, what about the benefit of the doubt in cases like this.

      AOL has to protect its members from all sorts of attacks, and included in these are phishing and URL redirection that often come from email solicitation. AOL could simply have had a filter that would not link to anything with AOL in the URL except from specific sources (you see where I'm going with this ...).

      Sure, there is always an air of Big Brother and evil corporations trying to oppress something ... but its not always the case.
      • AOL has to protect its members from all sorts of attacks, and included in these are phishing and URL redirection that often come from email solicitation. AOL could simply have had a filter that would not link to anything with AOL in the URL except from specific sources (you see where I'm going with this ...).

        Either way, it demonstrates clearly that if you want to get your email, don't use AOL. I'm just as sick of all the spam as the next guy, but AOL's efforts to block it tend to do at least as much har

    • by keraneuology (760918) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:50AM (#15129861) Journal
      AOL is driving down a road that will further alienate them from their users

      Do you think any significant quantity of AOL's users care about things like this? There are two and only two things that will get AOL's attention: legislation/legal action or if really popular websites started to block AOL users from using their services. If MySpace blocked all traffic from AOL users until AOL scrapped their email tax and fired the person who blocked this email then (after the necessary lawsuits which AOL would ultimately lose) AOL would fire the person responsible for blocking these emails (or at least a very public scapegoat) and would scrap the email tax.

      Ain't gonna happen though.

    • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Friday April 14, 2006 @12:14PM (#15130078) Homepage Journal
      "software glitch"? Right. That's the most pathetic attempt at damage control I've seen in quite a while.

      Come on, this is AOL we're talking about. I could actually believe it is a software glitch.

      Note, I said "could".

    • > This does not bode well for the acceptance of e-mail tax.

      Especially when there isn't such a tax to begin with. Goodmail is no different than Habeas or Bonded Sender, or any of the other whitelist schemes. If you have some privileged knowledge about what AOL is doing with the default disposition of non-Goodmail-branded mail, then by all means share it. What one marketing wonk said months ago has been retracted over and over, and I suspect that the default disposition is going to be pretty much the sa
    • That's the most pathetic attempt at damage control I've seen in quite a while.

      You have to give them a credit. They did not say "dog ate the line from /etc/hosts".

      Disclaimer. My filter is set to Funny:-6
    • I'm posting through AOL and they don't censor anything I send... in fact, I'll post the "censored" URL right n
  • Opposing Opinion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:34AM (#15129695) Homepage Journal
    From the article: "Left to their own devices, AOL will always put its own self interest ahead of the public interest."

    Well, yeah, no kidding. Since when did the "public interest" pay AOL for anything? Unless there is a law which says AOL cannot filter its "own" servers, too bad. It is AOL's right to do anything like this it wants to.

    Is this the best thing to do? Obviously not, however don't be shocked when it does happen. Unless you control your own email completely (from the ISP right down to the server) you are relying on someone else. And that someone else ultimately has their interests in mind before yours.

    Now, do some companies care about your interest? Sure, but they are not going to place your interest above theirs, otherwise they will be out of business. Supressing propangda which might cost you money; I don't think any business wouldn't consider that; and most, if not all, would try it.
    • Re:Opposing Opinion (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kisrael (134664)
      Well, yeah, no kidding. Since when did the "public interest" pay AOL for anything? Unless there is a law which says AOL cannot filter its "own" servers, too bad. It is AOL's right to do anything like this it wants to.

      I'm not a legal expert, but is there any "common carrier" issue here? An implication that if they start censoring to suit their own purposes, they might end up being responsible for illegal activities that might happen to use their mail servers?

      I guess it's kind of thorny, because a logical ext
      • > is there any "common carrier" issue here?

        I think there is, but the resolution is not (currently) in favor of the consumer. For some reason, the companies that have the big bucks had a bigger voice in the Telecommuncations Bills than the consumers. Why is that?

        Lessig had some typically apt comments [lessig.org].

        • by IdleTime (561841)
          You asked "Why is that?"
          Because we live in a corrupt country where, if you have enough money, can buy every politician all the way up to and including the president. He, GWB, is already owned by Saudi Arabia and Halliburton, so you know he cares as much about you and me, as he cares about a fart in the wind.
      • Censoring and filtering (aka SPAM) are a bit of a different situation... you could provide spam filtering services and not be considered censoring (well besides by the actual spammers) But censoring because you disagree with the content, particularly when that content is about you.
        • Well, the difference between censoring and filtering might not be THAT clean cut if you're trying to take a completely fair stance about it.

          Spammers are spammers because of their tactics, and the more they have to bend over backwards to ply their vile trade and included deceptive things to try to break through people who clearly don't want to listen to them, the easier the distinction is to make. The bulk nature of what they do is also a big signal.

          And as you imply, filtering a specific message about yourse
      • In short no, AOL is not anything like a common carrier, they provide a private network that has connections to the internet. AOL is even less of a Common Carrier then your typical ISP, which is also *NOT* considered a common carrier. Look it up if you don't believe me.
    • by benjjj (949782)
      Suppressing "propaganda"? Since when is a website set up by a group of people attempting to provide a counterpoint to a massive commercial spin campaign "propaganda"? You've got it backwards. AOL is the propagandist.

      That sentence about the "public interest" is misleading, as well. Sure, AOL doesn't need the public interest in the way an elected official does, but if you replace " the public interest" with "demand" (both are "what the people want"), I think the irrationality of AOL's actions becomes clear.
    • Well, yeah, no kidding. Since when did the "public interest" pay AOL for anything? Unless there is a law which says AOL cannot filter its "own" servers, too bad. It is AOL's right to do anything like this it wants to.

      Of course, the logical conclusion to your argument is that we can't expect to have common standards for anything, ever. Apparently any company will break those standards when it's short-term profitable to do so, and those situations will occur frequently. Therefore we can't expect to maintain o
      • Not really. A company won't necessarily take the short term profit, but they will always take the long term profit interest incentive. You mention that we will not have standards--not true. We will so long as it is in the interest of the company to do so. AOL clearly supports the TCP/IP standard because it is in "its" interest to do so, not the public interest. If AOL didn't support this standard then they would be isolated so they cleary support this open standard.

        Look at the high defination DVD stand
    • Is this the best thing to do? Obviously not, however don't be shocked when it does happen. Unless you control your own email completely (from the ISP right down to the server) you are relying on someone else. And that someone else ultimately has their interests in mind before yours.

      I don't trust them to act out of the goodmess of their hearts. I trust them because I'm paying them, we have a contract. If AOL isn't giving their customers the working inboxes email they are paying them for, surely there's a si

    • Not a big deal you think, they should control their own servers? That's the first thing I thought would come from Slashdot. But actually that is a pretty big deal right there. If ISPs start to regulate email in their interes using content filters where do we get? How about they sell this "feature" to other companies for marketing purposes. For better damage control in cases like this one. The more we rely on that kind of communication the more sensetive should we be about sensorship. How about your ISP filt
    • wait, wait, I thought capitalism was supposed to ensure that private corporate interests were aligned with the interests of their customers through a system of market feedback and self-interest... oh wait, I was confusing reality with bullshit again.
      sorry, my bad
  • And I'm the Easter Bunny.
    • Don't you really mean the future of free speech was last week? It's time has already past. We are under the oppression of dictators like ...

      [automatically interrupted/edited by AOL software]
      [AOL, the future is here]
      [Do you have AOL broadband? Try now!]
      [AOL is my friend]
      [This post and all future posts and all content are now owned by AOL]
      [Copyright (c) 1984 AOL/Time Warner All your rights are ours]
    • I bet you could go to another ISP if you suspect that they are filtering your e-mail. Just a hunch.
    • It is, if you exercise your right of free speech by going to the web site http://www.dearaol.com/ [dearaol.com] and signing the petition. The idea that spammers can pay a fraction of a cent to bypass spam filters is as bad as the games the phone company plays with unlisted numbers and caller ID.

      You get caller ID

      Telemarketing company pays extra to block caller ID on all outbound calls

      You pay extra for an unlisted number

      Telemarketing company pays extre for list of unlsted numbers

      You pay for call block

      Telemarketing company pays to bypass call block

      • State and Federal laws are quite clear on the fact that telemarketers CANNOT block their caller ID from showing up on a display or they would face a severe penalty.
        I've actually tried calling some of the caller ID #'s that have shown up that are a telemarketing contractor or subcontractor and wound up with either a dead-end recording or a busy signal.

        So CID #'s are next to useless in the immediate time being, only worthwhile to a person putting together a lawsuit agianst the joker that stacks call upon call
        • The problem is a lot of telemarketers call from jurisdictions where that's not enforceable - hence the reason you'll see boiler rooms in Montreal buying long distance in bulk. Dirty rat bastards.
      • ...

        You install and configure Asterix.

        You "greylist" unknown numbers.

        You blacklist any numbers known to come from phonespammers or anyone else you don't want calls from.

        Phonespammer company can't bypass your system, phone company doesn't control it, you don't get the annoying calls.
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:36AM (#15129717) Homepage

    I remember when AOL was useful, back in the dialup BBS days. But seriously... why would anyone in their right mind still use AOL? The fact that they still survive is absolutely impressive. There is no need for AOL. If you use it, just stop and go with another provider.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • In those days all the content in the world was located at Compuserve. They had the user base, the content but could not keep up. It was a sad day when they were folded into the big machine.
    • I remember when AOL was useful, back in the dialup BBS days.

      You have a good memory. I can't remember AOL being useful ever, if you exclude the free diskettes. Back in the days, even Compuserve was a preferable option...
    • AOL has their customers lost in a blizzard. Most of their customers don't know what the "internet" is. They just use the AOL GUI for all their browsing and email. Like my sister in-law who pays $21.95/month for dial up service. She's just used to AOL. She likes the nice little portal uses to dial up.

      I've tried to get her to move off. USfamily.net is $8.25/month. I would think saaving a single mom with a 16 year old $13/month would be a good thing.

      AOL isn't marketing to the /. crowd. Look at their co
    • Honestly I picked up way more girls through AOL IM via profile searches and local chats that I did other methods. Although that was when I was a teen, I guess now it would just be creepy.
    • by peragrin (659227) on Friday April 14, 2006 @12:55PM (#15130419)
      I will probably get flamed for this.

      A large section of the population are idiots. These people can't figure out how to work a thermostat let alone the internet.

      My boss is amoung them. I enjoy working for her, but we have been trying to wean her off AOL ever since work got a DSL line. That's right the company has a DSL line and spends whatever a month just for her AOL. She is the only one who wants it. She get's confused whenever we try to hide it on her. Heck she gets confused whenever we make minor changes.

      As I said i do enjoy working for her(the side benefits aren't bad for the job) but she can't figure out how to download a file, or where to find it once it was downloaded. Those Concepts are above her head, and will always be that way.

      so for her AOL is good. It's safe, and everything is in one place for her to use.
      • People that use AOL are insane. My 75 year old father-in-law finally got fed up with the ads and I switched him to a regular dial-up internet service. He is much happier, and finds it easier to use (I setup a bunch of well-named shortcuts on his desktop.) He is also totally computer illiterate (the TV remote is difficult - he had to get one with only 12 buttons) but does manage to navigate just fine.

        The people still on AOL just don't know any better becasue they have never tred anything else.
      • My boss is amoung them. I enjoy working for her [...] As I said i do enjoy working for her(the side benefits aren't bad for the job)

        You're hitting that, aren't you? :-)

    • It's the brand name. AOL has been around for a very long time.
    • Yes you are 100% correct, but John Doe Public does not know the difference between an online service provider vs Internet service provider. AOL provides their own branded content as well Internet network access. Back in the day this was one of the Major selling points for AOL, but today this type of thought is less prevalent because everyone and their mother now provides some sort of branded content/media. And talking to a couple of AOL users lately their mind STILL is set that AOL is providing content that
  • Stupid, but legal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:39AM (#15129740) Homepage Journal
    No law says they cant filter out what ever they want too, as long as they publsh the list to their subscribers ( and that may not be required, but good practice ) We aernt talking a goverment here. there is no 'censorship' clause..
  • if they don't like it. Otherwise AOL is well within their rights to do as they wish. AOL is a private network. Let the consumer vote with their dollars.
  • No i did not download torrents, its a software glitch.

    yeah baby!

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:47AM (#15129823) Journal
    This is funny because all these large corporate entities are proving (by shooting their own feet) that the Google 'do no evil' mantra is worth more than any advertising campaign....

    I can see the future where such 'news articles' cause havoc at the next shareholder's meetings... sadly, that day has not yet arrived, but as the world of commerce gets flatter, it will...
    • The best part of that is that it shows that business execs aren't what they portray themselves as. We're supposed to believe that business is about being ruthless and doing anything necessary for money, but since Google has shown just how much reputation can be worth, the rest have continued down the same dark path. They're showing that money isn't the only motivator for these evil decisions - they have got to be getting some perverse thrill out of it, otherwise they'd have adopted the more lucrative Do No
    • I think we may be jumping the gun here by assuming they are being "evil."
      As far as Google goes, they're too young to have done anything "evil" yet. Many might argue that they already see them going down that path.
  • It's easier to ask for forgivness than for permission.
  • "software glitch" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swelke (252267) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:50AM (#15129858) Homepage Journal
    The glitch, of course, being that they got caught.
  • by Enigma_Man (756516) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:51AM (#15129866) Homepage

    If they use heuristics and other methods for spam filtering that don't always work 100% reliably (I've had legit e-mail end up in the spam bin), it legitimately could have been because their spam filter just decided it was spam, and started dumping it. I'm not defending AOL, I think they suck, but just offering an alternate line of thought. Many ISPs use a human-based filter, the company I work for runs into it all the time, people sign up for our mailing list, and rather than cancel when they're done with it, they just click the "report as spam" button, and then all of our company is on their shit-list, even to those users who want to get our e-mails. Especially if somebody was mass-mailing AOL users that e-mail, it seems likely.

    -Jesse
    • Here's another example of how easily a glitch could block a domain name incorrectly.

      This case dealt with URLs in the message body, but let's consider a similar circumstance with the sending address and mail server name.

      Suppose AOL decides to block mail from servers that claim to be part of aol.com, but aren't at one of their own IP addresses. Now suppose someone miscodes the filter to match "aol.com" instead of ".aol.com". So when they test it with fakename.aol.com, it trips the rule and triggers a "possi
      • Yeah, that's all that I'm saying. The possibility certainly exists for it to be a mistake. It also seems _really_ brazen of AOL if they actually did it on-purpose, especially considering how obviously it is. Companies that do bad things don't typically do bad things that are out in the open and so blatantly obvious. Like... if they wanted to block it, why send back a response e-mail at all, just make the sender think their mail got through. If they were being malicious, they sure are bad at it :)

        -Jesse

  • by naught (16634)
    private company, well within their rights to censor whatever they want. the people who use AOL do so typically because AOL's easy, it's a name they recognize, and they like the features that are included. these folks are AOL's subscribers, they operate under AOL's license, and they have to abide by AOL's rules. such is the cost of ease.

    while i think it's a lousy pr decision, i don't think they're wrong for keeping emails out of their users' inbox that may be harmful to their business. on the contrary,
    • "DHL is a private company.. theyre well within their rights to censor my mail if it says something bad against them..."

      I'm sorry but It's not considered proper or legal to snoop someone's physical mail even as a private company.. and internet service providers as and industry are in full control over all "routes" for email just as the government is in control of all "routes" for us postage.

      I fail to see the functional difference, and as such ISP's should be held to the same constitutional standards as their
    • by Kelson (129150) *
      That's been a mantra among the anti-spam community for years. According to that doctrine, AOL is perfectly within its rights to block whatever the hell it wants subject to its users' preferences.

      That's a key issue: AOL's mail filters are not accountable to MoveOn, the EFF, Craigslist, or anyone else involved in DearAOL. They are accountable only to AOL and AOL's users.
  • SPAM? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79.gmail@com> on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:54AM (#15129904) Homepage
    "Over 300 people reported that they had tried sending AOL subscribers messages that contained a link to www.DearAOL.com"

    Sounds like a good candidate for a SPAM filter if you ask me.
    • Re:SPAM? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Russ Nelson (33911)
      Not to mention that MoveON probably sent a whole bunch of them. MoveON has a history of not processing unsubscribes or bounces well. "Let's send every AOL subscriber who has ever been on our list a copy of this URL!" Small wonder that when anyone else sent it, their email was also blocked.

      It's amazing how much ignorance about spam, spam filtering, and Goodmail is freely available these days. Maybe somebody should tax ignorance? You say something stupid, "DING!" it costs you ten cents.
  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:59AM (#15129950)
    Say hello to civil and criminal liability.
    • Offtopic a bit, but it may be interesting to note that almost no one is actually claiming "Common Carrier" status. Including AOL. The problem is that being a "Common Carrier" in the US includes several requirements that people don't want to meet.

      Also, note that from the wiki entry on common carriers [wikipedia.com] ISPs aren't considered telecommunications services (where common carrier status applies)...they're "information services":

      ...which holds that ISP service (both "retail" and backbone) is an "information ser

  • by blcamp (211756) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:59AM (#15129953) Homepage

    AOL exists on name recognition and the ignorance of the customers that choose to use them as an ISP. Nothing new here. As such, this becomes the modus operandi for everything it does... "let's block these mails, but show them as bounced messages... our users are too dumb to know the difference anyway, right?" Still, nothing new here.

    But AOL itself is stupid, thinking that EVERYONE is so blissfully unaware of it's business practices. Even moreso, that anyone would be OK with it.

    I don't know which is worse... that AOL thinks it can get away with an e-mail tax, that it can censor e-mails opposing it, or that it thought it was perfectly OK to do either (or both).

    Hey, AOL... there are still parts of your feet still down there... keep shooting.

  • by Fluidic Binary (554336) on Friday April 14, 2006 @12:00PM (#15129961) Homepage
    I think abuses like this need to be more widely publicized and discussed to educated the masses of ignorant users. I find this just as offensive as having my snail mail filtered (even if AOL is a company and not a federal service). The common user needs to understand this situation.

    ISPs in my experience have an attitude that it is their service and the users who depend on it are merely 'subs' (subscribers). While this perception may in fact be accurate, most users see it as 'their service' and view the ISP merely as a provider. So on one hand, most users spend their days thinking they are the 'always right' and 'all powerful due to their dollar' consumer. On the other hand ISPs tend to see their users as 'fat dumb and happy till something needs maintenance'.

    This dichotomy can exist, because in the end most users are too ignorant about IT to know what they can reasonably demand and not reasonably demand. A user is just as likely to call AOL to demand help with excel as they are about their mail being filtered.

    In the end users don't own the service they are renting, but ISPs need to learn to respect the rights of their users. The only way that is going to happen is if somehow, Joe six pack gets as pissed about this, as he would be if someone was filtering his mail.
  • by mrowton (828923)
    The [ebtx.com] average [afterophelia.com] AOL [isomedia.com] user [babeonhd.com] is [bikepainter.com] reason [faqs.org] to [heferito.com] doubt [aolwatch.org] darwin [anti-aol.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why should you think that AOL should be different? AOL is doing this blocking in order to fulfill the interests of their shareholders. The blocking was removed to fulfill the interests of their shareholders. They are required by law in the US to do so. In fact, if they didn't they could go to jail for failing to put the interests of the shareholders first. Why do you think that so many companies get fined for doing environmental damage? If it's going to save money by destroying some stream somewhere t
  • by fak3r (917687) on Friday April 14, 2006 @12:09PM (#15130033) Homepage
    For now, the best thing to do to oppose it is to visit DearAOL http://www.dearaol.com/ [dearaol.com] -- and signup in the right hand gutter "Sign The Letter as an Individual"

    Their petition states:
    In February 2006, AOL announced that it would accept payment for incoming emails. For these certified emails, it would skip its usual anti-spam filters and guarantee delivery for cash. Our coalition believes that the free passage of email between Internet users is a vital part of what makes the Internet work. When ISPs demand a cut of "pay-to-send" email, they're raising tollbooths on the open Net, interfering with the passage of data by demanding protection money at the gates of their customers' computers.
  • Friends ... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Friends don't let friends use AOL.

    Spread the word. Don't badger [badger, badger ...], but let them know what AOL's doing to ..., er, for them.
  • by ConvenienceComputers (932844) on Friday April 14, 2006 @12:15PM (#15130094) Homepage
    I don't see any problem with AOL filtering out emails that they consider hurtful. They use the "AOL Constitution" known as TOS (Terms of Service). An AOL subscriber must abide by this TOS contract if s/he wants to continue being a subscriber of AOL's service.

    I do not like AOL, and that is why I am not an AOL subscriber.

    You join as a subscriber, you play by their rules. Once you join, you make a connection to their network and, that's just it, you are on THEIR NETWORK. It is their land and their 'domain.' They make the laws - their rules. I think you get the point.
  • by XMilkProject (935232) on Friday April 14, 2006 @12:21PM (#15130136) Homepage
    Ya ya, we all hate AOL, but lets be reasonable here...

    This WAS spam was it not? The article clearly says that 300 people reported they couldn't send a copy of this email. If 300 people reported it, I can only imagine how many thousands tried to send it.

    If I was a spam filter, and I saw thousands of copies of the same email going out, I'd filter it too.

    • I don't think that word means what you think it means. Spam would be one person trying to send an email to hundreds of people, not hundreds of people trying to send an email to a few people each.
      • Spam would be one person trying to send an email to hundreds of people, not hundreds of people trying to send an email to a few people each.

        Of course, from the reciving server's perspective, it's hard to tell the difference between hundreds of people trying to send the same email to a few people each, and hundreds of zombies trying to send the same email to a few people each.

        This is one of many things that make accurate automatic spam classification a difficult problem, and why false positives continue to b
  • Here's a question for everybody: Seeing as Google now has a significant stake in AOL, do you think they care for a split second that this reeks of "evil"?
  • From http://www.dearaol.com/ [dearaol.com]:

    AOL's "email tax" is the first step down a slippery slope that will harm the Internet itself.

    The "slippery slope" is a well known logical fallacy; why did they include it?

    After all, I support their cause, but I can't put my name on a letter written like that!

  • Nice timing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Friday April 14, 2006 @01:08PM (#15130543) Homepage
    Mail to AOL from my mail servers just started bouncing again yesterday. The time is coming closer to tell my list members that if they are using AOL for email, they need to find another way if they want to use my lists.
    • The time is coming closer to tell my list members that if they are using AOL for email, they need to find another way if they want to use my lists.

      Do it and do it now. The sooner we all cease to put up with this nonsense, the sooner it's over.
  • I thought AOL is a software glitch.
  • I'd like to comment on the ideological rant that is the dearaol.com open letter [dearaol.com]. Quotations are from that source.

    We wish to express our serious concern with AOL's adoption of Goodmail's CertifiedEmail, which is a threat to the free and open Internet.

    The opening remarks set the theme and tone. Note that the tone is egregiously alarmist: "a threat to the free and open Internet" indeed. Imminent death of the 'net predicted -- again.

    This system would create a two-tiered Internet in which affluent mass emaile

  • Maybe AOL was just trying to prove to China [slashdot.org] that they were willing and able...
  • by The Mutant (167716) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:33PM (#15132002) Homepage
    I run a medium sized mailing list off my server, you-suck.com

    I've got several dozen subscribers in the AOL domain, and have consistently have had problems with bouncing / filtering out of AOL. And usually for bogus reasons.

    About one year ago they were filtering ALL email that contained tinurl tags, as a "security" measure. Just to show you how totally bogus it was, even the text tinyurl, tiny (space) url , etc were filtered - that is, just the phrase or two words, NOT EVEN A URL!

    Recently someone replied to a post with a string of profanity, including the word FUCK several times in a row. Now everyone on the list are good friends, have been for years, and we jerk each others chains a great deal. No problem. For us at least, as AOL didn't see it that way, and banned ALL email from you-suck.com due to what the headers of their bounces claimed were"profanity violations". I know for a fact that nobody on my list complained to AOL as most are family and the rest good friends.

    Totally bogus.

    I couldn't even email folks exaplaing what was going on from you-suck.com, and had to use Gmail to tell folks about the problem and ask them for their help in getting email from my domain unblocked (AOL won't do squat for non subscribers).

    Bingo. I sent out Gmail invites to every one of my AOL subscribers and two weeks ago the last switched over. Problem solved.

    But not really - from AOLs pov. Several of those impacted noted that lots of email was helpfully being screened by AOL, including loads of email from what should be whitelisted, top of the shelf domains - CitiBank, Fidelity, yahoo!, I'm not sure what else.

    So of these two dozen former AOL subscribers from my list, at least six are now former AOL subscribers as well, and several others are making plans to bolt as well.

    And telling all their friends about AOL, the Nanny ISP.

    A couple frustrating years of my time dealing with AOL bogus bounces, and I managed to get a bunch of folks off AOL.

    Works for me.

  • If you are an AOL customer, please can you explain why you use them? I don't get it...
    They've always been just an ISP with an annoying and redundant layer between users and the internet. They just get in the way and don't seem to bring any value to anyone with half a clue about the internet and associated freely available tools.

    Back in the 80's, the public weren't generally very computer-savvy so AOL got away with it, but surely in these days of widely available broadband, ubiquitous email & web access
  • What does this have to do with rights? This isn't the government censoring anyone. This is just a business move, and a rather poor one.
  • Friends don't let friends use AOL any more than they would let a friend go out in public with doofus written on his forehead in Magic Marker(tm), and for the same reason.

You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. - Al Capone

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