When this boycott began, AOL Time Warner was a huge company. As the boycott has progressed, the company has lost money and now Time Warner has dumped AOL, along with a few other money-losers such as Netscape (a great company before AOL bought them out). So now, boycott-supporters may resume reading DC Comics and Time magazine as we concentrate our energies on the shrinking list of brands still associated with AOL.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this boycott work. Let's keep winning.
AOL's ads boast about "parental controls" to limit youth access to the internet and help parents "protect" children. They make it sound as if they are merely keeping children from stumbling across harmful pornography, but in reality, they engage in a scary and harmful type of control. AOL "protects" youth from looking at political websites — if those sites are liberal. Conservative websites, they've decided, are okay for children.
In 2000, AOL was widely exposed for filtering out such sites as the Democratic Party website and the Green Party website, while allowing children to visit the Republican Party website.
In face of public outrage, AOL promised to clean up their act. They finally allowed children to visit the Democratic Party website. But other restrictions remain.
AOL blocks access to many feminist websites and sites that promote tolerance of gays and lesbians, but AOL allows children to visit websites of religious right groups opposing civil rights for gays and opposing equality for women.
AOL blocks sites that promote gun-control, but allows access to the sites of gun-manufacturers and the National Rifle Association — a group that opposes all gun-control, except gun-control is age-based.
For more details, check out these articles:
Pushing parents to insult their children
Not only does AOL mislead parents about what will be blocked if the filters are used, AOL pushes parents to use the filters.
When an account is opened at AOL, the user is instructed to set up an account for each person in the household, so each can have separate e-mail. The customer is then asked to fill out certain information about each user, including the user's age. If the person is a minor, AOL automatically sets up the youth's account with filters. To change this, parents must go to great trouble removing these filters.
This sends parents the message that controlling your child's web access is not only permissible, it's expected. Parents who treat their children with dignity and respect are made to feel abnormal.
Unfortunately, the media help AOL in shaming good parents. The media constantly portray a world in which all normal parents want to control their children, even though this is out of step with reality. Not long ago, law-makers (following the media's lead) passed a law forcing TV manufacturers to install V-chips. But a recent study showed that, of all the parents who now have V-chips in their TV's, more than 80% choose not to use them.
As usual, the supposedly "liberal" media are more conservative than most Americans.
Many, many parents are good people who love their children and would never allow their children to be insulted if they could stop it. AOL tells those parents they are wrong.
It can be hard to boycott some of AOL's companies. Netscape, for example, makes a browser rivaled only by Microsoft. And Microsoft not long ago ran commercials boasting of how they are developing technology to help parents control their children's web-surfing. Predictably, Microsoft designed their ad to emphasize the supposed normalcy of parents turning against their children. So which browser do you use?
We can't do everything, but we can do some things. First and foremost, don't subscribe to AOL. There are plenty of other internet service providers, and many of them will give you better service than "AO-hell" (as I've heard customers call the company of a thousand disconnects). As subscribers fall away from America Online, the corporation will be forced to re-evaluate their treatment of parents and youth.
If you read any of their magazines (listed above), read them free at your local public library. Don't give AOL Time Warner your money. And if you read Time, switch to Newsweek. (Their content is less hostile toward youth anyway.)