Sunday, May 04, 2008

No Worries! AOL Is Watching Out for You!

Well, they're at it again.

A couple-three years ago, my e-mail to friends and relatives who are still benightedly using AOL as their internet provider began to bounce. After some detective work, I deduced that AOL didn't like one or more of the links I include in my outgoing-mail signature. These included my e-mail address, my personal web page at Geocities (which they seem to hate), my genealogical page at FortuneCity (that seems to be the one they really hate), and gifs that link to Thunderbird and Firefox.

For a time, I gamely deleted the signature from AOL-bound e-mail, but never without a feeling of resentment. What business is it of AOL's if I want to put a link in, say, my correspondence with my cousin? Seems to me that that's between him and me, and AOL's paternalistic "at least one domain in your email that is generating substantial complaints from AOL members" is neither here nor there: I'm not e-mailing those whiners, I'm e-mailing my cousin!

And of course there would be those instances where I'd forget to delete the signature, and the e-mail would bounce back, and my resentment would increase, etc.

But then one day it seemed that there was no problem anymore, and my e-mail was making its way past the Moral Guardians of AOL Customers with no untoward difficulty, and life was good, or at least not too crappy.

Until this weekend. AOL is back to "protecting" my cousin--who is well into his adulthood, mind--from receiving any seditious materials from me. My cousin doesn't have any say in the matter. I don't have any say in the matter. AOL makes the decision for us, pre-emptorily, supposedly because of "substantial complaints" from members about other communication, having nothing to do with me or my cousin, they appear to have received from "one or more" of the domains referred to in my e-mail.

Get that: I'm not SENDING from a blacklisted domain. I'm merely referencing an address they don't like in my e-mail to ONE person who, foolishly, is a customer of theirs.

Yes, I'm working on the cousin to dump AOL. But of course it's a hassle to change ISPs, and I can't blame a guy for being unenthusiastic about it.

In the meantime, though, I find myself pretty peeved at the high-handedness of AOL.

But that is nothing knew. I recall a certain brouhaha some years ago when the media caught wind of AOL's having dumped a customer because she began some kind of online support or information group for survivors of breast cancer--and had had the nerve to use the B-word in the group's name, and in referencing the disease, and so on! Everyone knows that br**st is a dirty word, and so AOL, in its best Big Brother mode, blocked her from their network for the benefit of all. Until, that is, it hit the media, and AOL looked both stupid and paternalistic.

Obviously, the corporation learned nothing from that episode, and is once again setting itself up as the arbiter of what people may or may not read, and the Great and Wise Protector of All who might be exposed to such atrocities as

Get Thunderbird Get Firefox

Oh no! Your eyes, your eyes!!

No comments: