AOL Angers Chatters with Forced Advertising Buddies in AOL Instant Messenger

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AOL has drawn the ire of the users of its popular instant messenger program, AOL Instant Messenger (also known as AIM, AOL IM, AOL Chat, or AOL Message – whew!), by adding two new “buddies” to users’ buddy lists without even asking.

The ShoppingBuddy and MovieFone buddies just appeared in users’ buddy lists this week. The MovieFone buddy allows one to look up movie information, and the ShoppingBuddy buddy offers gift ideas and sale information.


According to an AOL spokesperson, although these are not the first commercial buddies which AOL has injected into their AIM system (they also offer a news ticker buddy and a baseball score ticker buddy through AOL Instant Messenger), it’s the first time that they have been added to users’ buddy lists without permission.

What I want to know is, what boneheaded marketing wonk came up with that lead balloon?

Explained Brian Curry, Senior Director of AOL’s AIM Network Services, “We never had a well-defined program. Now we have a program with partners who help people build these bots.”

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Apparently that definition includes “adding bots to people’s buddy list without their permission.”

The spokesperson added that “In adding bots automatically, AOL was looking for a way to make users more aware of their existence.”

Well, you have me there, because that certainly worked.

 

While AOL is of course within their right to do this, in addition to annoying the very people whom they are trying to monetize, AOL instant messenger users, this flies in the face of everything which we who preach Internet security tell people: don’t trust uninvited buddies who suddenly appear on your buddy list!

According to the AOL spokesperson, AOL is soliciting feedback on the move.

And I’m sure that they’re getting it.

In fact, all they have to do is read Slashdot (or as we in the biz call it, “/.”) to know what people think. One user, who goes by the handle of “Zoloto”, summed it up this way: “I don’t need some “shopping buddy” to automatically add themselves and promote buying over their network. Someone missed the ethics boat on this one.”

Recommended reading:

Smileys

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2 thoughts on “AOL Angers Chatters with Forced Advertising Buddies in AOL Instant Messenger

  1. “diane” has the right idea, this is why i never went with a.o.l. to begin with. i still find a.o.l. discs kicking around my place every now and then, i take them to the range and use them for pistol targets.
    “gunner”

  2. Boneheaded is an understatement ! These $#*$ ‘buddies’ showed up in my Trillian list for AOHell and the first thing I did was DELETE THEM !! No one wants unsolicited crap in their buddy list, we get enough of that in our inboxes. When I want to do on-line shopping, I use my own sources, not those foisted on me thru SPAM.

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