AOL e-mail bounce: 'Software glitch' or suppression?

You say po-TAY-to. I say po-TAH-to. What America Online calls a "software glitch." Many bloggers are calling "censorship."

aolmail

There's lots of talk out there about AOL's apparent blocking Wednesday and Thursday of e-mail on its servers containing the Web address of a petition against the company's upcoming--and controversial--GoodMail certified-mail program.

The company, which has about 20 million subscribers in the U.S., was bouncing email communications with the URL "Dearaol.com," including one sent by News.com. An AOL spokesman said the "software glitch" affected dozens of Web links in messages, not just those including Dearaol.com.

Could be, but as one blogger put it, "That's one hell of a convenient glitch."

Blog community response:

"AOL wants us to believe they wonÂ’t hurt free email when their pay-to-send system is up and running. But if AOL is willing to censor the flow of information to silence their critics, today, how could anyone trust that they will preserve the free and open internet down the road?"
--MediaCitizen

"The shocking thing in the article to me is that AOL still has 20 million subscribers."
--Cynical-C Blog

"AOL's explanation makes more sense than the coalition's scenario. Given the volume of messages processed and the levels of filtering of its messages, there are bound to be occurrences like this. The DearAOL petition has been circulating freely through AOL's e-mail system since February, so it seems a bit odd that the company would suddenly decide to begin blocking them two months later. The fact that the "glitch" was resolved within hours indicates AOL was responsive to the problem, so it seems that the coalition is once again tilting at windmills."
--Clickz News Blog

"AOL seem to be out for themselves and, mainly, for profit. I can understand that AOL may want to monitor users e-mails for illegal material but under *no* circumstances should this be allowed nor tolerated at any level. Having to pay for e-mail is one bad thing but to then have all free e-mail containing a URL to an opposing group block is just one step too far."
--Digital Beyond

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About the author

Michelle Meyers, associate editor, has been writing and editing CNET News stories since 2005. But she's still working to shed some of her old newspaper ways, first honed when copy was actually cut and pasted. When she's not fixing typos and tightening sentences, she's working with reporters on story ideas, tracking media happenings, or freshening up CNET News' home page.

 

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