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AOL Blushes Over Vulgar Word Gaff

Amid angry subscribers' protests, America Online has reversed its decision to put the word breast on its indecent word list.

When AOL last week began telling subscribers that use of the "b" word was unacceptable, breast cancer patients were outraged. Many of them use the service to exchange information and converse with others who have an interest in the disease.

When a user typed the word breast, the service flashed a message saying vulgar words were unacceptable. Some who had used it in their member profiles, such as describing themselves as breast cancer survivors, have reported that their profiles were subsequently deleted.

AOL has admitted that its initial ruling was a mistake. A company spokesperson said that "appropriate" use of the word will be allowed from now on. The company will compensate affected users by giving them five free hours online, the spokesperson said.

Despite AOL's blunder, breast cancer consciousness is alive and well on the Net. A number of sites offer support and information including the American Cancer Society, the Breast Cancer Information Clearinghouse, and Avon's Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade. Read more about women's health issues in CNET's "now on the Net."