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America Online

AOL Censor Tells Most If Not All 236

An unnamed reader writes: "From the latest Village Voice: 'You've got mail--and moral conundrums! A former AOL "censor" comes clean about the messy ethical dilemmas spawned by anonymity.'" This is one of the ickiest workplace accounts I've read in a while, but parts of it may make you laugh as well. You know that AOL has people watching the online traffic -- well, this proves that the job is not as glamorous and fulfilling as it sounds, but it does have some odd twists. See also this older Salon story for further insight on AOL acceptable use policies.
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AOL Censor Tells Most If Not All

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  • by Jakob Sorrel ( 321598 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @12:22AM (#350518)
    While censorship is always a difficult issue, I think there is a real place on the Internet for censored access.

    I am a parent, with an 8 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. I want them to have access to as many educational opportunities as possible, but I am not always around to supervise them. My general practice has been to turn on censor-ware while I was away, but turn it off if I was available to keep tabs on my children.

    While I appreciate the dilemmas that the AOL censor has faced, I feel that they are nonetheless providing a valuable service that is appropriate for many people. While I'm not sure what I think about government sanctioned or required censoring, censored Internet access definitely has a place in my household.

  • Long Live Big Brother!!

    Jak Din
  • I don't get it. During the BBS days you had to provide a copy of your drivers' license to prove you were old enough to view adult content.

    You could even prevent certain phone numbers from being dialed.

    Are people so lazy they can't request home to home DSL access instead of full blown Internet?

    Yes, I know it's not offered yet, but neither were a lot of features now available. The same people who can keep ISPs from daring to set-up metered access can't take the time to request the services they want?

    Imagine for example:

    You set up an agreement with a neighbor that one DSL modem dial number is for full blown Internet and one for the home-to-home net. Give your kids the home-to-home net and access the Internet yourself on your own time.
  • by HerrGlock ( 141750 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @12:43AM (#350521) Homepage
    How utterly dredful 99% of the content a person has to go through. People think their problems are the worst there ever were, people think they are the only ones with THIS problem. Well, anyone with this job has got to see the exact same problems with the names changed a hundred times a day.

    Hey, that's a good job for someone who is really depressed. If they figure out that their problems are not unique and that they are not the only ones with that problem, they may realize that others are also overcoming it daily.

    Then again, it may not be for those who internalize other's problems. A really good empath would be insane after about an hour.

    Oh well, AOL has been looking over all the messages and traffic into and out of their domain. This is supposed to be news?

    DanH
    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • by cheinonen ( 318646 ) <cheinonen&hotmail,com> on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @12:44AM (#350522)
    While I don't have kids of my own, I have younger siblings that are growing up now with a whole world of online access I couldn't dream about. When I was my brothers age, I had an 8088, a 1200 baud modem, and CompuServe. He's growing up with his own P2/300 with DSL access in his bedroom.

    My parents have asked me about installing censorship programs for them on the computers some and everytime they have asked, I've refused to do so. It doesn't make them happy, but I have reasons for it. I think that, as soon as I don't think I can trust my kids to be online and use it as a resource and that it's going to corrupt them, I'm going to just cut off from it. While I'm sure the censorware programs do a pretty good job at cutting off access, they will just go to the house of a friend who has parents that don't care and find that stuff if they really want to find it, or they'll find it other ways, like kids my age had to.

    There are extreme examples, like the one cited in the article about the mother whose son searched for basketball, but overall, if they kids don't go looking for it, they probably won't find it. If they do go looking for it, then not allowing them access won't stop them from wanting to get it, it will just make them find a way around that. Only teaching your kids what you think about such actions will influence them, cutting them off just throws up a barrier they will find a way around.

    Maybe when I have kids I won't have to deal with this, everything online will require ID to check, read from a smartcard, who knows. However, for now, I think parents have to take the responsibility for not allowing their kids to search out things, not relying on someone else to filter it out for them. It's a big world out there, and eventually they are going to see it, you just have to prepare them for it instead of slamming the door and not allowing them out. I think AOL is fine for censoring names and profiles if they want to create a safer service, and if you don't like that idea then get a real ISP instead of AOL, but parents shouldn't rely on it.

  • by To0n ( 256520 )
    Stringent Rules and tough personal calls on what is right and wrong morally, and allways having to take the company line on that matter.

    Only thing that would get me to take that job is if it paid well (which from the sound of it, it did, for an entry level position)

    I guess there should be some congratulation for fee speech from AOL, as well as their grounds for rightful censorship, and security of personal information. Just as many bad things to say against all those as well.
  • I work for an ISP, doing tech support. I started at about 30% higher per hour, and Issues like this are the issue of Customer Service, and not tech support, thank god.

    As for the familynet idea, you can do it with a variety of ways not requiring the ISP offer it.

    As for censorware that was mentioned above, I have also resisted installing on my in-laws computer. They have a 16 year old who is turning into a real slut, because even the best censorware is not perfect. Instant Messaging is a problem, and considered installing Cybersnoop. It doesn't censor automatically, rather it logs the pages visited. I know you will find porn even on accident out there, clicking off it quickly is one thing. Lingering is another. And yes, pop-ups look different in the logs than lingering.
  • McAfee WebScan blocks out competing products and very little else.

    Censorware companies block out criticism and send threats to peacefire.org.

    It's called censorware for a reason. Tell your parents that the next time they can't see www.whitehouse.gov, it's because the weather report on the site says, "Winter is hard on cars".

    Several censorware companies routinely and broadly block out university students' web pages or those of homestead users, such as users of geocities, fortunecity, homestead.net, just to fill in their quota.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    For any that don't know, 'If I knew it was gonna be that kinda party I woulda sticked my dick in the mashed potatoes' is from a Beasty Boys song. I have to wonder if the censor knew that, it may have changed her opinion.

    I had a roommate that almost drive off the road laughing hysterically when he heard that line!

  • From my professional work I've learned that most ISP's don't work with "ethical guidelines" when it comes to privacy... the big companys might have them but it's mostly up to sysadmins and the techs to make their own rules.
    I think that most people respect privacy but when it's a big company that claims to respect customers privacy it's realy bad.

    AOL have clueless users but that donesn't mean that AOL are allowed to do what they like with them.

    // yendor


    --
    It could be coffe.... or it could just be some warm brown liquid containing lots of caffeen.
  • mention several things:
    • The qualifications of the people for determing porn. But, that may be the point of the article since there is no real qualifications.
    • The failure of the CyberPatrol list that they use for censoring. Ever try to call into AOL to report a wrongly blocked site?
    • About when the AOL people go overboard on censoring home pages. I don't expect them to be able to balance the issues of free speech, protected speech, libel, and pornography. That is different from the stalking threat which was cited.

  • I can't believe this got moderated as "insightful" -- it's both offensive and not funny. (and, shows no "insight" into the joke it was attached to).


    willis.

  • " While I'm not sure what I think about government sanctioned or required censoring,...." Well, I'm sure what I think. The government has absolutely no right to censor or require censoring of anything. That's the first amendment, and I am, I suppose, a first amendment absolutist. That is not to say that what AOL is doing is wrong....it's a completely different question. AOL is a private business, and private property, and if the powers that be there decide that creating a family oriented place is in their best interests, and will profit the company, then that is their call. (They don't seem in fact to go out of their way to do so, as reading the Salon piece mentioned by Timothy shows.) Anyone who doesn't like it, can go elsewhere or start a competing service which operates using different criteria. I may not personally _like_ the way AOL defines proper conduct, but I respect their right to do so.
  • One thing that bothers me, though...

    Ours was one team at America Online, but there are others, monitoring violations in e-mail, on member Web sites, and throughout the company's staple, instant messages .

    Is this to lead me to believe that anytime someone uses AIM, that it's being monitor?

    I know that ICQ is peer to peer, sending messages directly to the other person's IP, but AIM doesn't seem to do this unless you use Direct Connection.

    Until having read that line, I just assumed AOL had better things to do than monitor conversations and e-mail. fnord


    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • Come to prove that their are a lot of sick people. I don't know if this will grow or fall in popularity with the Internet.
  • Having worked for AOL at one of thier out-sourced call centers. I know 1) they didn't pay very good and 2) personal information was easily accessable to people than one would think..among other things. The pay wasn't very good it was only $8 starting out and if you were super lucky and had your 8 minute call time average, among other things. Hurry up get them off the phone, we don't care if it is fixed, as long as you have an 8 minute call time, you would get a whole $.50 raise. And personal information was pretty easy to get if you knew the right people. Most people who worked there would look up the information on people in a chat room, or someone they met on the service. Turn over was so high at this place training classes were weekly and they were always full. So you would become friends with someone who you went to training with and became friends with they would normally look up the info. You know..doing something for a friend I had friends that would do it for me when I was there and didn't want to look it up myself. Wanted a new screenname...wanted to see if it was avaliable Just go and look in the database. Hell, some early accounts some got CRIS (the program that gives the member info out) access..some how magically acheiving this "rainman" status as it was called. You always had it beaten into your skull that it is always audited and they are always watching you and what you do. I found this not to be the case except in one instance. A friend looked up her personal information and so did a co-worker, she was aware of this when he did it, and they both got fried. This was the only time that I can recall for as long as they were in town that AOL had followed the internal policy of checking CRIS access and seeing who was looking at what. And as far as the Ending of this article I had a similar instance with customers calling up saying that people were stalking each other. They would have thier new screennames and thier home phone #'s and address. And how did they get this information? Internal people. I had people crying to me on the phone about how these people were never leaving them alone and asking why I couldn't help them any. I would have to turn them away to talk to one of these guys who wrote the article. And as far as the internal people what could I do...i had no clue who was doing it. AOL wasn't looking at who was looking at what records. And some Internal people would just hand out the information to thier friends. But this is what happens when you hire anyone off the street. For tech support for a major ISP and doing training like I did, I should have not of had to give a class on how to use the mouse, like I did on many occasions.
  • Having worked for AOL at one of thier out-sourced call centers. I know 1) they didn't pay very good and 2) personal information was easily accessable to people than one would think..among other things.
    The pay wasn't very good it was only $8 starting out and if you were super lucky and had your 8 minute call time average, among other things. Hurry up get them off the phone, we don't care if it is fixed, as long as you have an 8 minute call time, you would get a whole $.50 raise.

    And personal information was pretty easy to get if you knew the right people. Most people who worked there would look up the information on people in a chat room, or someone they met on the service. Turn over was so high at this place training classes were weekly and they were always full. So you would become friends with someone who you went to training with and became friends with they would normally look up the info. You know..doing something for a friend I had friends that would do it for me when I was there and didn't want to look it up myself. Wanted a new screenname...wanted to see if it was avaliable Just go and look in the database. Hell, some early accounts some got CRIS (the program that gives the member info out) access..some how magically acheiving this "rainman" status as it was called. You always had it beaten into your skull that it is always audited and they are always watching you and what you do a total Big Brother thing. I found this not to be the case except in one instance. A friend looked up her own personal information on her account and so did a co-worker, she was aware of this when he did it, and they both got fried. This was the only time that I can recall for as long as they were in town that AOL had followed the internal policy of checking CRIS access and seeing who was looking at what.

    And as far as the Ending of this article I had a similar instance with customers calling up saying that people were stalking each other. They would have thier new screennames and thier home phone #'s and address. And how did they get this information? Internal people. I had people crying to me on the phone about how these people were never leaving them alone and asking why I couldn't help them any. I would have to turn them away to talk to one of these guys who wrote the article. And as far as the internal people what could I do...i had no clue who was doing it. AOL wasn't looking at who was looking at what records. And some Internal people would just hand out the information to thier friends. But this is what happens when you hire anyone off the street. For tech support for a major ISP and doing training like I did, I should have not of had to give a class on how to use the mouse, like I did on many occasions.

  • As for censorware that was mentioned above, I have also resisted installing on my in-laws computer. They have a 16 year old who is turning into a real slut, because even the best censorware is not perfect.

    Because of imperfect censorware? Teens have had hyper-active sexdrives since the begining of humanity, and have grown promiscous without the help on the Internet. How do you know her current sexuality has anything to do with the Internet?


    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose that you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
  • I don't get it. During the BBS days you had to provide a copy of your drivers' license to prove you were old enough to view adult content.

    No.

    My porn directory is still c:\ter400\download\pictures, because most of the porn I have I downloaded from BBSs. I was 14 then.

    And it was so much easier. You just selected the files, and download them. No popups, no spam, no 'FREE!!' signs everywere. I would just chat with the sysop (probably a 16 years old kid) and ask 'where is the porn?'

    Good times.

    --

  • All three of the things you mentioned are beyond the scope of the person who wrote the article. She was working the TOSNames mailboxes, there are separate mailboxes (and separate teams) for files and user home pages.

    Gotta admit though, I'd love to hear war stories from people who used to work TOSFiles. Imagine being "the guy who downloads porn all day, to see if it's really porn..."

    Shaun
  • They're monitoring our instant messages?

    Aren't these supposed to be (well, sort of) private?

    I know that it's definitely possible, as almost all instant messages (the ones that aren't sent via a direct connection) pass through the AOL servers.

    I'm not sure, but wouldn't this be in violation of a law or two?

  • During my days of AOL, which was about 3 days before I realized how incredibly lame it was, was that you could use a keyword (Keyword: TOS) to report a "TOS Violation" When reporting IMs, you simply pasted in the chat and they would "investigate" it. Whether this meant they analyzed the logs to see if what they said is true, or simply accepted your word on the paste job, I do not know. But the belief always given was that they weren't watching until someone asked them too.
  • by plcurechax ( 247883 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @02:02AM (#350540) Homepage
    This reminds me of the study done by Customs Canada that looking at obscene material did not affect their employees. The references are available from EFC [www.efc.ca] archives.

    Yet, this same study was not taken seriously in the freedom of speech context, that is if Customs says high concentration of this material doesn't damage the mental health and well being of their employees, yet the average citizen should still not be allowed to look at the material in question. A classic double standard.

    Some speculation that the study was to be used as potential evidence if there were lawsuits by Customs employee that smut and filth that ruined their lives.

    Are AOL censors lives ruined by the subjection to porn and illegal material in the workplace as part of their job?


  • YOUR RIGHT TO PRIVACY INVADED

    Ok so I wouldn't use AOL if they paid me to, but one has to be concerned, especially if they're an AOL user and by chance reading here. Users are supposed to have a right to privacy, judging by this article the interviewed person should be sued for violating someone's privacy rights while hiding under TOS bs. Surely I can see he states he is doing his "job" but how much of his "job" would be to post about older women and their cats. I would not be upset if I heard about AOL suing this moron for NDA based stuff.

    Sure you can moderate this down and troll it to a -3 wouldn't matter, the facts remain, I'm sure even the typical user would expect to have some form of privacy when using their ISP.

    Thanks to $INSERT_DIETY_HERE for PGP, stunnel, SSL, PPTP, Outguess [outguess.org]

    stor elak javel [speedygrl.com]
  • This kind of moral grandstanding disguised as informed criticism really hacks me off.

    1. Of course we don't know that the poster isn't a nutcase, nor, if he is, whether that is due to reading pornography when younger (in the West, statistically speaking almost all males past puberty have some pornography stashed somewhere and, statistically, virtually none of them turn into dangerous types - rather poor grounds on which to posit a causal relationship.) In the same vein, we don't know that you're not some evil Bible-bashing fuitcake prepared to cause any amount of misery in order to protect other people's moral wellbeing. Your first point is nonsense.

    2. While, no doubt, some people in the pornography business do get abused, we have to assume the vast majority don't otherwise it simply wouldn't (and couldn't) exist in anything like the scale it does. We all find the idea of children being exploited in sweatshops to make fashionable running shoes repugnant, yet those shoes still sell in their millions.

    3. What has the original poster done that leads you to suspect that (a) somebody has suffered because of him and (b) that he has not taken responsibility for it?

    To sum up, of course one posts one's own opinions. How, pray tell, is one supposed to prove objectivity?

    Sorry, but contentless holier-than-thou rhetoric is just the lowest form of debate.

  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @02:29AM (#350543) Homepage

    Diary of an AOL (l)User.

    July 18 - I just tried to connect to America Online. I've heard it is the best online service I can get. They even included a free disk! I'd better hold onto it incase they don't ever send me another one! I can't connect. I don't know what is wrong.

    July 19 - Some guy at the tech support center says my computer needs a modem. I don't see why. He's just trying to cheat me. How dumb does he think I am?

    July 22 - I bought the modem. I couldn't figure out where it goes. It wouldn't fit in the monitor or the printer. I'm confused.

    July 23 - I finally got the modem in and hooked up. that nine year old next door did it for me. But it still don't work. I cant get online.

    July 25 - That nine year old kid next door hooked me up to America Online for me. He's so smart. I told the kid he was a prodigy. But he says that's just another service. What a modest kid. He's so smart and he does these services for people. Anyway he's smarter then the jerks who sold me the modem. They didn't even tell me about communications software. Bet they didn't know. And why do they put two telephone jack holes in the back of a modem when you only need one? And why do they have one labeled phone when you are not suppose to hook it to the phone jack on the wall? I thought the dial tone sounded funny! Boy, are modem makers dumb! But the kid figured it out by the sound.

    July 26 - What's the internet? I thought I was on America Online. Not this internet thing. I'm confused.

    July 27 - The nine year old kid next door showed me how to use this America Online stuff. I told him he must be a genius. He says that he is compared to me. Maybe he's not so modest after all.

    July 28 - I tried to use chat today. I tried to talk into my computer but nothing happened. maybe I need to buy a microphone.

    July 29 - I found this thing called usenet. I got out of it because I'm connected to America Online not usenet.

    July 30 - These people in this usenet thing keep using capital letters. How do they do that? I never figured out how to type capital letters. Maybe they have a different type of keyboard.

    JULY 31 - I CALLED THE COMPUTER MAKER I BOUGHT IT FROM TO COMPLAIN ABOUT NOT HAVING A CAPITOL LETTER KEY. THE TECH SUPPORT GUY SAID IT WAS THIS CAPS LOCK KEY. WHY DIDN'T THEY SPELL IT OUT? I TOLD HIM I GOT A CHEAP KEYBOARD AND WANTED A BETTER ONE. AND ONE OF MY SHIFT KEYS ISNT THE SAME SIZE AS THE OTHER. HE SAID THATS A STANDARD. I TOLD HIM I DIDN'T WANT A STANDARD KEYBOARD BUT ANOTHER BRAND. I MUST HAVE HAD AN IMPORTANT COMPLAINT BECAUSE I HEARD HIM TELL THE OTHER SUPPORT GUYS TO LISTEN IN ON OUR CONVERSATION.

    AUGUST 1 - I FOUND THIS THING CALLED THE USENET ORACLE. IT SAYS THAT IT CAN ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS I ASK IT. I SENT IT 44 SEPARATE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INTERNET. I HOPE IT RESPONDS SOON.

    AUGUST 2 - I FOUND A GROUP CALLED REC.HUMOR. I DECIDED TO POST THIS JOKE ABOUT THE CHICKEN THAT CROSSED THE ROAD. TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE! HA! HA! I WASNT SURE I POSTED IT RIGHT SO I POSTED IT 56 MORE TIMES.

    AUGUST 3 - I KEEP HEARING ABOUT THE WORLD WIDE WEB. I DON'T NOW SPIDERS GREW THAT LARGE.

    AUGUST 4 - THE ORACLE RESPONDED TO MY QUESTIONS TODAY. GEEZ IT WAS RUDE. I WAS SO ANGRY THAT I POSTED AN ANGRY MESSAGE ABOUT IT TO REC.HUMOR.ORACLE. I WASNT SURE IF I POSTED RIGHT SO I POSTED IT 22 MORE TIMES.

    AUGUST 5 - SOMEONE TOLD ME TO READ THE FAQ. GEEZ THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO USE PROFANITY.

    AUGUST 6 - SOMEONE ELSE TOLD ME TO STOP SHOUTING IN ALL MY MESSAGES. WHAT A STUPID JERK. IM NOT SHOUTING! IM NOT EVEN TALKING! JUST TYPING! HOW CAN THEY LET THESE RUDE JERKS GO ON THE INTERNET?

    August 7 - Why have a Caps Lock key if you're not suppose to use it? Its probably an extra feature that costs more money.

    August 8 - I just read this post called make money fast. I'm so exited. I'm going to make lots of money. I followed his instructions and posted it to every newsgroup I could find.

    August 9 - I just made my signature file. Its only 6 pages long. I will have to work on it some more.

    August 10 - I just looked at a group called alt.aol.sucks. I read a few posts and I really believe that aol should be wiped off the face of the earth. I wonder what an aol is.

    August 11 - I was asking where to find some information about something. Some guy told me to check out ftp.netcom.com. I've looked and looked but I can't find that group.

    August 12 - I sent a post to every usenet group on the Internet asking where the ftp.netcom.com is. hopefully someone will help. I cant ask the kid next door. His parents said that when he comes back from my house he's laughing so hard he can't eat or sleep or do his homework. So they wont let him come over anymore. I do have a great sense of humor. I don't know why the rec.humor group didn't like my chicken joke. Maybe they only like dirty stuff. Some people sent me posts about my 56 posts of the joke and they used bad words.

    August 13 - I sent another post to every usenet group on the Internet asking where the ftp.netcom.com is. I had forgot yesterday to include my new signature file which is only 8 pages long. I know everyone will want to read my favorite poem so I included it. I'm also going to add that short story I like.

    August 14 - Some guy suspended my account because of what I was doing. I told him I don't have an account at his bank. He's so dumb.

    More AOL humor [antioffline.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You must be new here. Anything that can even be remotely determined to be anti-MS gets modded up, even if it's blatantly wrong, off-topic, and links to the goatse.cx guy all at once

    like this:
    The Microsoft cafeteria regularly serves up European children who were here on vacation [goatse.cx]

    I expect to be modded to +5 insightful within the hour

  • Are you kidding? That show got lousy ratings last summer - and besides, Cassandra should have won.
  • Everything is a compromise.

    For a parent not wanting their kid to access indecent material on the internet, having other people monitoring content -- losing privacy -- seems fairly pragmatic. By using AOL you're agreeing that people can do this. I'd assume (hope) that the author changed the names to protect the guilty...

    It's not a compromise I'd currently be happy with, but then I don't have kids. And at least AOL is open about it. It has official policies, which is more than can be said for my ISP (who say they can teminate my account if they ever get the urge and little more).
  • Why shoult you supervise them ? Why not leave them make their own meaning about what they see ?
  • by rakslice ( 90330 ) <[ten.xmg] [ta] [ecilskar]> on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @03:10AM (#350548) Homepage Journal
    The bit at the end of the story -- the occurrence that the author supposedly quit their job over -- sounds like a cookie-cutter "social engineering"-type attempt to recover some poor loser's account info.

    (Did you hear? They took "gullible" out of the dictionary.)

    If anyone needs professional psychological help, it's that person.

    Ah... the smell of the closed minds vanishing in the early morning mist...
  • "Firstly, that you yourself didn't come to any harm - do we have any evidence supporting this?"
    Let's toss that one around and ask: do we have any evidence supporting the opposite? No. We must take his word for it. Most, if not all, adult men have at some time been exposed to pornographic material (this is a fact). Of these men, only a fraction so small that it can barely be represented with numbers have turned into these psychopathic monsters you so colorfully describe (thisis also a fact). How in the world did you get the idea that there exist a relation between the two?

    "How do we know you're not now a psychopathic misogynist rapist who stalks innocent teenage girls, hoping to live out scenes depicted in hardcore pornography which shaped your adolescence?"
    But why? Why would somebody want to go do something just because they saw a picture of somebody else doing it? If you show your son a picture of somebode mowing their lawn does that mean he will go do the same with your lawn? Oh boy, you really have stumpled upon something here. "Photographic mind-control". Try selling it to the military.

    "Secondly, you only consider the harm which porn may have caused you, without considering the harm that may have been caused to the people involved in producing the pornography."
    Considering the harm that may have been caused to the people involved in producing automobiles, does this mean that you never drive a car or ride the bus?

    "Also, you don't consider the harm that may have been caused to other people exposed to this porn. The sum total of these groups could have experienced significant harm. "
    Wonderful argumentation. How can you use the point that you are trying to prove as an argument for that very point? "2+2=5, because 2+2=5" anyone?
  • Hmmm. Why do you assume that the vast majority in porn couldn't get abused, when you already acknowledge that children all over the world are abused in sweat-shops just to keep us with cheap shoes? Why is the former not possible when the latter is happening?

    /mill
  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @03:25AM (#350553)
    If parents allowed their children into the adult parts of town, we'd call them irresponsible. Yet when it comes to the Internet, apparently they can ignore their responsibilities as parents and pass the blame on to others instead.

    The Internet isn't a protected playground and it can never become one without becoming utterly emasculated. It is a faithful cross-section of all of humanity, without artificial barriers, and that is what makes it the largest and most valuable resource on the planet. The Internet may be in fashion with youngsters wanting to be adults, but if you're a parent it's NOT the place to let your youngsters roam freely before they are old enough to make their own decisions.

    In its danger lies its strength.
  • In short. Only the lives of the extremely sheltered would be damaged by being exposed to the kind of material an AOL censor sees. I should know because I worked that job and others for AOL from 1995 until 1998. At AOL you don't just see this working for CAT. It is everywhere. The tech support reps hear it on the phone from customers as do the billing reps. In fact, I have to say that working the phones at AOL was much more stressful than answering email or canceling accounts for TOS violations. Here is the thing - while the person from the call center in NM says that they were always told to follow company policy that is hardly what happens. In fact, most AOL techs were given little guidance on what to do and so just did it their own way. I handed out addresses to porn sites when requested and instructed the same people on how to get porn from newsgroups. I handed out URLs and search engine tips like no tomorrow. I was monitored on many of these calls but did management ever say a word about helping the customer? Hell no. I was good. I gave the caller's what they wanted. Aside from fixing everything from their operating system installs to AOL's shitty software I provided a full service guide to the internet and had an average call time of about 5 minutes. It took me way to long to realize that I was actually too good. On the list not to promote due to high performance..etc etc. The article writer mentions high promotion rates at AOL. That only happens when a new call center is opened and after that it's kiss ass to move up. They never cared about their employees and stole employee ideas suggested at keyword 2 cents without even giving recognition. They lie constantly to employees. etc etc...not to mention customer complaints. AOL was by far the worst company I have ever worked for. On the other hand AOL stock has been good to me and will continue to do so in the near future. Steve Case and crew know what they want and they know how to get it which I can't say for many companies out there. They are a Juggernaut because they learned a long time ago that ANY press is good press...in fact bad press is probably better because it's free. They litter the world with their software and have spammed usenet to death at times. Their TOS rules are silly and aren't really an attempt to stop anything. They shun the porn trading that made them what they are today. I could go on for days. When I worked their the janitors were making more than the call center workers. So...then I left AOL to work for MediaOne and some of the same situations arose. One night some coworker's and I were monitoring our channels as we should. Pimps up Hos Down was on Skinimax. Some bible thumper that works here passed buy and noticed the tv. She filed an HR complaint to which I replied - "You work for the fucking cable company...you personally recommend this shit daily." It was dropped. Why did it happen? If you don't like what your company is selling, go work elsewhere.
  • by vulg4r_m0nk ( 304652 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @03:32AM (#350556)

    To my mind, one of the saddest things about this account is that it's further demonstration of how little technology is understood by the average user. As the article illustrates, the myth of anonymity is far and away the greatest contributor to inappropriate behavior online. For another recent case in the media, recall the genius that used AOL instant messaging to send follow-up threats to students at the high school in SD -- "Huh? How'd they find me? My curtains were closed and I sent the message from inside the closet!"

    Now where this gets kinda interesting is the fact that users want technology that hides the details, as the discussion [washingtonpost.com] Monday indicates. Unfortunately, as more is hidden, the less likely it is that a user will be able to utilize the technology in a prudent manner, because they simply won't know where to begin looking for possible dangers, if they look at all. So, I expect we'll see more instances of people doing questionable things online out of idiocy, and the problem will get worse as long as they are shielded from the details of how things work. As the article posted notes, many AOLers (and you know they aren't the only ones) misunderstand the nature of the Web so fundamentally as to fail to see that sending threatening letters to AOL staffers is about as smart as demanding a cashier's check at gunpoint.

    Another example to think about here is the impressive number of young nekkid chicks all over the Web -- how many of them actually understand that those pictures will never, ever go away?

    So, I think where I'm going with this is to suggest the following:

    • Developers of technology ought to be focussing on giving the common user tools that 1) work; 2) are mature and stable such that the user doesn't have to plan to learn a new system every year. Fewer bells and whistles, more good apps that users actually comprehend. (note that I'm talking about software for the average person, not slashdotters, so relax ;-)

    • We need to realize that many of these problems exist because to learn to use any piece of technology safely requires some time and effort to understand on some basic level what it's doing, unless you want to clip the user's wings entirely and make their decisions for them. Right now there is a scary dearth of knowledge in the heads of users, and that's why a lot of the shit out there (death threats and worms clearly labeled .vbs (which just kills me BTW ;-) ) is there in the first place.
    The upshot is that a crucial part of our discussions about the future of technology, especially where the discussion is about responsible uses of tech (i.e., Web access in public libraries), has to be about properly educating users. And I'm not talking about holding the hands of retards, but giving good instruction just as we do regarding the use of any other major piece of equipment.

  • by galego ( 110613 ) <jsnsotheracct&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @03:49AM (#350557)
    You can't rely on corporations, elementary schools, government, churches...Nay, not even censorware to keep your kids safe.

    The story of the kid and the screen identity is kind of heart-wrenching...at least how its told. Did he say what the nick was on the IM? I mean...it could have been the kid down the street and her son going to light off some firecrackers. <siderant>We just live for media like this and look for the worst in it. There must me a perv on the other end cuz the media tells us (or suggests) so...right?</siderant> But I do understand the anguish of the mother. I've had my daughter wander off inside a store and send my wife frantically chasing and calling after her, meanwhile thinking what might have happened. Amazing what your mind can do in 5 minutes!

    There's just no guaranatees...which means you can't rely on AOL's censorship team to keep your kids safe. People get mad if a politician, teacher, etc. tells them it's their primary responsibility (as parents) to teach, monitor and help their children, but that's just the way it goes folks. And ya know what...There's still no guarantees!

    And yes...since It's our responsibility, I would just as well have these groups out of the picture, only invading privacy further.

    Galego

  • by eyez ( 119632 ) <{ten.acilbbab} {ta} {zeye}> on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @03:50AM (#350558) Homepage
    What bothers me about the end of the article is the way this 'mother' is acting.

    To elaborate, She will probably blame AOL and the Internet for the rest of her life for what those evil internet people did to her child, and her child was a victim, and blah blah blah.

    I'm not saying that the internet is not partially to blame, but to just leave your child in front of a computer, or a video game console or the TeeVee without EDUCATING them about what's good or bad or evil or wrong or happy or productive or whatever is just STUPID. Come on, parents. The Future isn't an excuse for you to let electronics replace you. and I've heard that excuse more than once... "I don't know anything about my child's video games. All I do is buy them!" Moron!

    And this stretches as far as to the kinds of people who go ballistic over doom/quake/mortal kombat//etc... What, your child doesn't know that when you frag someone in real life, they don't respawn? Sure, it may not be the most obvious thing int he world at first, but COME ON.

    Bottom Line: Some things in this world should NOT be handled by someone not Mature enough to handle them. (duh?) And Parents should be the ones monitoring this kind of thing, not some guy in a cubicle at AOL.

  • by peccary ( 161168 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @03:52AM (#350559)
    As for censorware that was mentioned above, I have also resisted installing on my in-laws computer. They have a 16 year old who is turning into a real slut, because even the best censorware is not perfect.

    Well, what's her screen name? Don't be such a tease!
  • by Anml4ixoye ( 264762 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @03:55AM (#350561) Homepage
    I am one of those users (as I am sure are a lot of us) who started with this whole computer thing long before AOL, when it was just BBS's and 300-1200-2400 baud modems (zmodem transfer, yes!). I never had a problem accessing most content, though some BBS's did a better job than others.

    At the time, I was just a wee lad, and really didn't know much better. I got involved with quite a few groups, and became 'friends' with a lot of people. Of course, you could lie a lot about a lot of things, but jeez, I was only 13 when I started, so I didn't know *too* much to lie about. At any rate, after being on a lot of the local boards, one guy invited me to do work at a shop he owned doing electronic stuff. I worked there for perhaps four months on the weekends before on day he drugged me and molested me (I'm a male BTW).

    But do I blame the BBS for that? Do I blame technology for that? Obviously not as I am still heavily involved in the field of technology, nor do I go out torturing llamas and the such because of it. It was a bad experience, and one that I hope no one has to go through, but I learned a lot of valuable lessons from it.

    So why people all of a sudden act like AOL is such a bad thing, I don't understand. In my opinion AOL is to BBS's what Napster was to MP3's - It opened up a world that previously was only available to those who knew what they were doing. It mainstreamed chat and email, and allowed users to connect to this 'internet thing' (even if they do think AOL == Internet) and enter a world never before open to them.

    But as those of us who have operated or participated on BBS's or ICQ or anything else of that nature know, the price that opening a service such as that brings is exactly what we see. People are not what they seem, very sadistic and strange people dive right in, and a general melee seems to run rampant. By exposing your personal information to a stranger, you can get in a lot of trouble. Why does this surprise people?

    I despise AOL. Not because of what they have accomplished, but in their methodologies. Researching them, I see what they are trying to do, and the 'features' that they add to their software. Imagine a service like AOL that, instead of trying to protect themselves, served to help people step into the next level of computing. Imagine something similar for the world of Linux (very theoretically of course) where users would get a simple installation disk to start that was all GUI, and 24-hour support, but slowly were weened off to strictly command-line interfaces and hash-bang scripts.

    Or maybe not.

    But let's not let the people who have no clue set the boundries to which we are 'allowed' to use the internet. The internet world has always been and will always have people who aren't what they seem, whose ultimate motives are to pillage, rape, kill, etc. No longer are they forced to hide in their little worlds. Anytime you have the ability to hide your identity, some people will use that to a different advantage, for a different purpose than just expressing ideas.

    I feel we basically have a few options of where to go from here.

    1. Reveal the identity of all users. Have some giant world-governing organization ensure that everyone is who they say they are, say by implanting a chip in everyone that automatically signs them into the computer.
    2. Continue with things being the way they are and watch as the world we are used to gets bashed and limited to the point where you would be lucky if you could find Powerpuff girls sites because they are too violent.
    3. Educate the public, and our lawmakers, and support ways to protect users without taking away the things that we hold dear. But realize at the same time that by not regulating everything, some people may slip through the cracks and you may have to actually be careful online.
    If your kid has a computer in his/her bedroom, and you don't talk to them about the things they may see, or don't keep up with them on a regular basis, don't be surprised to come in one day to get them for dinner and find them gone. But even if you do all of that, you still may find them gone. Sometimes there is nothing you can do.

    So don't let the public take away something that has been around for years and years just because it doesn't fit into their personal schedules. Yes, the internet is a dangerous place sometimes, but that doesn't mean that we should close shop just to appease the customers who don't like it.

  • by peccary ( 161168 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @04:06AM (#350563)
    The story of the kid and the screen identity is kind of heart-wrenching...at least how its told.

    The "mother" was bull-shitting the AOL rep. Scamming, lying, social-engineering. Mark my words -- you'd have heard about the AOL-stalking child-abducter otherwise. The caller was almost certainly not actually a mother, and was just trying to extract someone else's identity from a trusting AOL staffer. It burns me to see people who ought to be tech-savvy still perpetuating the myth that the Internet is overrun with pedophiles and child abusers, when the reality is that it's overrun by petty, vindictive, malicious, lying adults.
  • Whether people like it or not AOL pitches itself as a family friendly service and has no choice but to monitor and censor screennames. Without such action the whole service would become such a cesspit that no parent would want their child to go near it.

    Despite the screen name censorship, AOL doesn't censor Internet access unless you tell it to. So you can still plumb the depths of depravity if you so desire but not with a screen name like "rimjobbr69" whilst doing it.

  • Look at the date. As far as I know, this component even has been removed since then (the German government threatened to forbid sale of Windows 2000 if that component stayed in...)
  • by Hellburner ( 127182 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @04:16AM (#350568)
    "...but I am not always around to supervise them."
    Well, you were obviously born sometime after 1965 and your parents were born between 1938 and 1948. That's the only way you could just check off the "please abdicate my personal responsibility, I need some ME time."

    Unsupervised children? Just too hard? Need some personal ME time away from those darn organic talking ornaments that squall and whine all the time?

    Turn off the damn computer. Lock it in a cabinet. Turn off the damn tv. Turn off the radio, grab the walkmen, the cd players, the nomads, the gameboys and the goddamn tamagotchis. Pick out some books, a baseball mitt, ball, and bat, a soccer ball, and an easel and some paint. You can manage to keep your children in your yard? Right. Good. Now place your children gently outside with their books, balls, and brushes. Add graham crakers if necessary. Allow play. Reading. Thought. Creativity. ACTIVITY.

    Best damn form of internet censorship I ever heard of. Can't supervise them my ass. That's a parent's job.
  • Look folks, just because you don't agree with someone's postion does not automatically make the person a troll. Its called a discussion.

    Opinions vary. This is a reasoned, thought out post, not a link to goatse or it's ilk. In fact, this is a rather enlightened take on things from the point of view of a parent who actually seems to (gasp) care!

    This kind of moderation is sad. It tends to narrow the focus of the conversation, and keeps people who may have views that are valid but unpopular from expressing them.

  • I help run a chat service called UberWorld [uberworld.org]. Its not quite like AOL in the fact that people with just standard telnet access [uberworld.org] can use it and its a little more complicated (10 basic commands to learn and you're away, but there is a total of 400 available plus many more depending on how long you use the place).

    We used to run an 18+ only rule because people were free to talk about what they wanted. However this became more and more difficult to implement. Unlike AOL we don't have any way to link back peoples online names to addresses or personal details. Only thing we take is an email address for some of the features when you register (and you don't have to if you don't want to). People just lied, and we had no way of checking.

    So we stopped it. It was simply being too difficult to police. So now we have a set of rules [uberworld.org] which are in general the sort of thing you'd expect to abide by in everyday life.

    Occasionally we do get idiots, racists and homophobes or general nutcases who take delight in winding up people, but they tend to find that they are ganged up on and ridiculed off the place.

    Self regulation.

    Its a shame that AOL have to resort to draconian measure for this sort of thing, but there are strange people out there.

    Strange people tend to do it to get the attention. They like it when people make a fuss and something happens. When they're totally ignored or ridiculed then they tend to give up and go elsewhere.

    Granted we're not quite as popular as AOL (only 200 hard core users, most bored administrators and coders looking for some light conversation) but I'd hate to start implementing the sort of stuff AOL does if we did grow any bigger ...

    --

  • by DrEnema ( 410581 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @04:40AM (#350572)
    Frankly, as a medical professional, my experience with AOL has been less than satisfactory. Their overzealous account-cancelation policies are simply ridiculous. I called to explain to them that I am a real doctor but they wouldn't listen to me.

    I am now happily using roadrunner for cable-modem access instead of the crappy AOL, upon recommendation from one of my patients.
    ---
    "I give sadistic enemas to men, women, and children."

  • Why do you assume that the vast majority in porn couldn't get abused, when you already acknowledge that children all over the world are abused in sweat-shops just to keep us with cheap shoes? Why is the former not possible when the latter is happening?

    Note: as a US citizen, I can only speak for the US porn industry.

    For one thing, virtually all porn that is capable of being sold involves adults. Adults, contrary to popular belief, are capable of making informed choices, and that includes the choice of whether or not to participate in the production of pornography (yes, I know it's not quite that easy, but close). I've yet to hear about somebody in the commercial US porn industry who was forced to perform with a gun to their head.

    For another thing, the general populace likes to believe that porn is wrong, and will try virtually anything to stop its production. As a result, if there was even a hint that any measurable amount of porn was being produced where the actors/actresses were being forced/coerced into performing, the government would come down on the industry like a ton of bricks. That they haven't, aside from regulating who can perform (gotta be over 18) and where the movies can be sold, tells me that there is no substantial evidence that the porn industry involves non-consenting adults.



    --
  • How dare you use use logic against a kneejerk reaction. You've got some nerve, buddy. ;)



    --
  • by Errant_knight ( 410577 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @04:54AM (#350576)
    It was rather disturbing for me to read this article.

    For a number of reasons. The predominant one being that I knew everyone involved. I attended the same classes that were mentioned and as those 4 were pulled off to work on profiles I went on to the CAT team.

    Let me quickly clarify some misconceptions that I saw in some of the postings.

    Monitoring - If you spent some time to think about it you would recognize the impossiblity of that. The sheer number of IM's and chatroom conversations that occur would overwhelm anybody trying to actually monitor what was going on. They were referring to other departments that dealt with reports of violations. nothing more.

    Civil Liberties, 1st amendment and others - I took it as a good sign when, in a course of a week, I was accused of being a neo-nazi and a liberal left winger the same number of times. I will neither defend nor condemn AOL's policies but I can tell you that I never once saw an account being actioned for a viewpoint, rather for how that viewpoint was expressed. If you are unable to express your viewpoint without the use of vulgarities, slurs, or personal attacks then AOL was not the service for you.

    the last call -

    It actually hurts sometimes to remember the things that we had to deal with. Sure it would be easy and convenient for us to label all of the stories that we heard to a socially engineered hack and I know very well that some of the people that I talked to were doing just that. But not all of them were, and after a while it got to you. The police officers that called, the mothers, fathers, friends.... people crying, desperate, frustrated. All the time making a decision based on our guidelines and our best judgement, in a 5 minute timeframe. Several times I heard things that prevented me from sleeping that night.

    I was disturbed and happy to see this article, it was nice see someone express our side of the situation. Because I am not a neo-nazi and I am not a liberal left winger. I was just someone trying to do an unusual job as best he could.
  • dude, put it in perspective. You want to be REALLY depressed? My wife was a child welfare worker for a year and a half (investigated child abuse). You wouldn't believe the situations so many kids grow up in. It's just sad. I have no idea how she did it.
    ---
  • If you are a parent, and you want to keep your children safe on the internet, one of the easiest ways to start doing that is by NOT using AOL. Think about it.

    "So easy to use, no wonder it's number one." How many millions of people have AOL accounts? Ten million? Twenty? I lost count somewhere around 1997. My point is that AOL is a very poor vehicle for internet access. The reason for this is that it's in the best interests of the company to keep its users away from the internet as much as possible, and point them towards their internal content instead. An example? Think of how often you see a TV ad that has both a web site and an "AOL Keyword." Those companies pay extra for that area on AOL, and AOL wants to make sure they get their money's worth.

    What I'm getting at here is that if you turn your children loose on AOL, they are not going to go to the Homework Help areas, they are not going to go check out "Kids Only Online." They head for the chat rooms because chatting is fun. It's not educational, however, and it does have the potential to be threatening.

    If you want to give your kids access to the internet for research purposes, then get an account with an ISP. A system like that is really not hard to learn, and actually lets you access the internet, not AOL's warped version of it. Yes, you still need to be careful about the sites your kids visit (hint: avoid www.nasa.com), but you don't have to worry about who they're talking to while you're in the kitchen making dinner.
  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @05:07AM (#350580)
    Firstly, that you yourself didn't come to any harm - do we have any evidence supporting this? How do we know you're not now a psychopathic misogynist rapist who stalks innocent teenage girls, hoping to live out scenes depicted in hardcore pornography which shaped your adolescence?

    I'm willing to believe him, just by the odds. A similar scenario is violent video games. Millions of kids play them, but that doesn't turn them into violent murders. And the few kids that end up in the news were already on the edge. I believe the same can be said for porn.

    Secondly, you only consider the harm which porn may have caused you, without considering the harm that may have been caused to the people involved in producing the pornography. Also, you don't consider the harm that may have been caused to other people exposed to this porn. The sum total of these groups could have experienced significant harm.

    Unless he's downloading something illegal, i doubt any harm came to those involved in making it. They got paid to do it, and did it of their own accord, and probably like it. (No, i don't buy that BS story, 'I had no choice.' McDonalds or your local grocery store are always hiring.)

    As far as harming others; you don't just stumble onto porn, you have to go looking for it. Which to me implies it was something you wanted to see. Besides, i could claim someone is doing me harm when i see commercials with little kids in them; they make me sick, b/c rather then finding them cute, i find them disgusting b/c i know exactly what they are trying to do. Associate their product with cute. So why don't they take responsibility and pull all commercials with kids under 13.

    In conclusion: you are not the only person affected by your actions, please learn to accept some responsibility for what you may have done

    He has. And there really isn't much to do; he looked at an explicit picture. He's not responsible if the chic (or guy) in the pic hates what they are doing and hates themself for it. Thats their own stupidity. He's not responsible if someone else finds it offensive. They were disgusted, and got rid of it. At that point, its settled. And the person that goes around trying to act out what he sees is already fucked to begin with.
  • by scrain ( 43626 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @05:10AM (#350581)
    As someone who used to work for AOL ('til the TW merger finalized, at least) here's the scoop.

    No... AOL doesn't scan or log IM content either on the service or via AIM or ICQ. There's just too many of them to even consider doing it. The last number I heard about volume was upwards of 750 million IM's a day, and that was at least a year ago.

    The IM's that they're talking about in the article are ones reported to the CAT teams via what used to be the TOSIM screenname/notify AOL tools. Those were notoriously easy to try and fake by posting in whatever you wanted. They changed it to use only the 'Notify AOL' button in AOL 5.0 and later as the only acceptable way of reporting. The button adds a verifiable token value to a hidden field in the report to ensure that it's not faked content.

    scott
  • ...what we need is a plugin for aim that allows you to associate a public key with a name on your buddy list... whenver you IM that person it is automatically encrypted, and automatically decrypted on the other end by the receivers private key.

    Or another product that recognizes the need for security and builds it in... like Sametime [lotus.com]. A government agency actually uses this to communicate confidential info at regular staff meetings between officers spread around the world.

    AIM is great for casual use but when people start to use it for business purposes, they are potentially exposing really sensitive info to the world. Instant Messaging is a wonderful business tool but without security it's no good.

    (BTW Sametime allows you to message AIM users as well, although not with the same level of security)
  • He's growing up with his own P2/300 with DSL access in his bedroom.

    If the idiots are so worried about what he's doing online, why does the DSL go to his bedroom??
  • by matria ( 157464 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @05:19AM (#350585)
    Nevertheless, youngsters often lack the experience to handle the situations that arise...re the 16-year old lured to his abduction-murder in Israel recently. But this really has nothing to do with the Internet. Jimmy Rice was stalked from the Little League field. Parental responsibility, as has often been mentioned, is the answer. I kept the computer in the living room, and when my young son insisted on logging on to a friend's rather silly ASCII graphics porn BBS, I knew where the OFF button was...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I ran a BBS for 4 years, then I switch to running an ISP for 3 years. It was a small town of about 30,000 people. We had about 3,500 accounts when I left. What did I see? 1. This AOL story happens at every ISP. I saw people willing to throw away marriages so they could have cyber-sex with someone who they didn't even know. I've lost faith in people in general because they use the technological freedom well beyond what is probably psychologically safe for people to do. Internet dating... great idea... date someone who you have no idea who they are.... date someone who hasn't dated someone else in years(probably for a very good reason but you'll never know). We also had the same repeated type of case where people would sign up, and the first thing out of their mouth would be "where do I go to get the porn?" There were cases where we would cancel these people's signups right on the spot. These are MY tech support staff, don't go asking them that crap. It's in violation of our user agreement. 2. Internet users treat ISPs like they are utilities, "Hey, you can't turn me off for not paying!". Yes we could, and we did. We were not obligated to provide anyone anything. 3. Internet users always think ISPs are the ones at fault. Hm... Home computer user purchased a 'great deal' pc for $300 and now they can't stay connected... must be the ISP. I'm sure the ISP's $50,000 access server must be much more worthless and the source of the problem. We even had a guy call up to complain "ever since the upgrade" when we hadn't done any upgrade in the last 5 months. He also was angry when we told him so because he accused us of calling him a liar. Give me a break. 4. I watched some very genuine people erod away doing tech support. Users were abrasive, never wrong, and tried to take advantage of us. We used the "benefit of the doubt principle". We would always give users the benefit of the doubt. If the user screwed us over or lied to us, what do you know? We wouldn't be so kind after that. 5. Little punks try to mess with the admins because they get booted. I had a troublemaker who I put on the "You will now be guilty until proven innocent list". Ie. anything wierd happens, we'll assume it is you and suspend your account. In reality it meant that when I would get a collect call at home from a "uuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaahhg", that was him, and his account would get suspended. Finally, morons like this guy realized that I don't like dealing with them and that if they would just quick screwing around... well, they'd be left alone by me. 6. Here is where I don't trust in the AOL story... we had a pedophile on the system, a user from canada was spammed by him with child pornography. So I grabbed everything I could in terms of logging, personal contact into, etc.. and turned it over to the FBI. Why or how could I do this? Well, I knew what was going on... I'm not harboring any fugative, screw that. Secondly, our User Agreement said we could. 8) We had every right to take whatever information we wanted to the police should an illegal activity . We didn't go looking but when abuse@isp.com gets something like that, it's all over for the user. Wow, and imagine that... that user's lawyer couldn't do a thing about it and that bastard got thrown in jail(search warrant turned up tons of stuff). It made the paper and we got lots of praise except from one University professor who demanded to know if we were looking at his financial data, what a moron. 7. ISPs have the same customer base as fast food joints, and ISPs don't have the staffing to rotate out like fast food joints. Do I blame the guy for quitting... no. Do I think AOL could have done more? Sure, they may need to modify their user agreement but they could. They would also have to turn information over directly to the Police and not the person.
  • by Saint Nobody ( 21391 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @05:45AM (#350592) Homepage Journal

    i can think of two cases of that kind of social engineering succeeding against aol just of the top of my head:

    • A girl named Amber Applebaum found out Trent Reznor's email address. (he used to have MTRez@aol.com) she proceeded to call tech sypport and say that she was Trent's wife (he's not married) and she needed the password. then she proceeded to send email from his account for a while. she was later arrested for it.
    • There was a case a while ago where there was a web page run my an anonymous member of the u.s. navy dedicated to gay sex. the navy just called up, without any of the allegedly necessary paperwork, such as a subpoena, and asked who it was, then gave him a dishonourable discharge. (i'm pretty sure it was the navy at least. i don't remember details.)

    in both of those cases, aol specifically stated that the operators violated aol policy. and who knows how many cases of that i don't know about...

  • Ok... I'm a parent and, no, I wouldn't let my kids go into 'adult' parts of town. But as a metaphor for Internet usage, this is really weak! There's a big difference about controlling where your child is PHYSICALLY versus where your child is ON-LINE. I know when and if my kid leaves the house, but it just takes a few quiet clicks to end up on the wrong side of the Net. Make no mistake, the Net offers up some truly unique parenting dilemas.

    Having said all that, I agree with the rest of your post. The Net is NOT that place to let youngsters roam free (and to hell with childless libertarians who spout crap about kids coming to grips with the 'real' world, and "porn never hurt me when I was a BBS whippersnapper", and the like).

    For my family, we have a few solutions. We DO NOT use censorware 'cause it doesn't work well and provides a false sense of security. I DO check logs, caches, and such from time to time. I DO surf with my kids from time to time and help them build bookmarks for the sites they regularly visit. And finally, we DO keep the kids PC in a corner of kitchen where the monitor is there for all to see.

    Does this work? So far, yes.... but my kids are only 5 and 8 and someday they'll be smarter and curiouser. When that time comes, well I hope I've raised 'em right, Beyond that, I guess I'll be their parent....

    - rant over -
  • when the AOL people go overboard on censoring home pages. I don't expect them to be able to balance the issues of free speech, protected speech

    I don't expect AOL, a corporation, to have to worry about 'free speech' or 'protected speech.'

    [stock rant on subject]

    • The freedom of speech, guaranteed by the US Constitution's First Amendment, just ensures that the government will not consider any personal expression to be against the law.
    • That's it. No more.

      You can't say just anything you like; forms of speech including libel, slander, inciting panic, insider trading, and matters risking national security are still illegal, as they infringe on other peoples' rights.

      You aren't immune to censure by other parties, either. The government may not hold your speech to be illegal, but your private-sector employer may have the right to curtail your expression further, depending on the agreements you sign with that employer. The government may allow your speech, but your Internet Service Provider may have a completely different set of rules about content.

      The Amendment is only two or three lines long, written in plain English, and yet it is the most misunderstood part of American Law.

    [end of stock rant on the subject]
  • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @06:06AM (#350596) Homepage Journal
    As far as harming others; you don't just stumble onto porn, you have to go looking for it.

    Are you joking?! I've stumbled across banner ads that are way out of line while just looking for computer equipment and games that do not have any such crap associated with them. You must not use the internet much if you think that is the case. Just watch a movie or TV, you'll stumble across some form of outright ludeness without even realizing it's coming!

  • About that last caller:

    I'm apalued that one would place security at a $7/hour paying job, over the safety of a child. I actually find that sickening. That information should have been given out, piss on AOL's policy. Not saying give that info out to every Tom, Dick, and Harry...but come one now.

    And I also am shocked about AOL's poilcy on that. I mean, they see no problem in using your personal information to send you spam out the ass. But as soon as a child's safety is in question "sorry, that information is sacred, we can not give it out to anyone" No, it's they won't give it out for a pirce.

    Makes me think that parent shouldn't have called customer service, they should have called marketing and just bought the information.

    And to everyone that says "the parents should have been watching their child" It's impossible to look over your child 24/7 let alone just bad parenting to do so. THis wasn't some 6 year old. This was just a mother scared that her child was oen of the many that leave their house because someone in AOL convinced them to do, and they aren't seen again until someoen finds them in a ditch on some old hunting road 6 months later.

    And people won't why I hate AOL..
  • Don't filter, install a linux gateway in the basement, protect it under lock-and-key, install firewall rules, and a proxy server that logs web access. Don't hide it, tell your kids that it's there and logging and you WILL check it and they must police themselves. Then make occasionally allowances for a mistake or two, like when clicking on an innocent looking site and being redirected to that goatse site.

    Either that or sit with your kids at all times when they are on the net.

    Filtering software is a parent's worse enemy.. WTF people can't understand that is beyond me. Even if it worked 99% of the time (and they don't), that 1% will be found and if so, it might as well not be there. Filtering software lulls parents into a false sense of security.

    Logging via a secure box and self-policing with consequences if the house rules are violated is the only sane way I can see of handling this problem.

    Is this easy? Not for many. And that means a business opportunity. Put an (often) free ad in your civic association or community newsletter advertising that you will take their old unused obsolete computer, like a 486, set it up as a linux firewall, give the parents a way to view the logs, you'll be a hero. Almost everyone has an old POS computer laying around these days. My basement has its own 486/66 Linux box too! :)

  • HAH!

    I collected those stupid floppies. Got about 15 or 20 of them back when they were still selling for $1.50 per around here. However, all but two failed to format error-free.

    I can't imagine AOL going to the expense of deliberately damaging the disks, so I suspect they bought the QC rejects from Verbatim or whoever.

  • by SimplyCosmic ( 15296 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @06:50AM (#350606) Homepage
    Here's a link to a news article with more details:

    AOL, NAVY Settle Privacy Case [cnet.com]

  • Oh man, what a time to be without any mod points. If anything deserves a +5 (Funny) today, this is it.

    For those that might not get it, this isn't a troll - go read the article.

    Good one "Doctor"

  • As our friend so brilliantly voiced in his experiences at AOL, we see the Internet being a central point for many rather scary ideas. Because of the freedom (and ease) to exchange any and all information, we've seen an serious increase in the number of debates upon issues we might not have even touched previously. I'm going to hate bringing this topic up (again), but the Napster debate would be an excellent example of a recent conflict strictly related to the ease of information exchange. A better example would be child porn on Gnutella. I can't argue that there are numerous benefits to the freedom of information on the Internet, but can we really go on ignoring the extremely bad ones? Freedom of speech vs. freedom of information, I guess we're stuck at a catch 22 for the moment.
    ----Quid
  • I have a strong suspicion that you are correct, that this was social engineering. Now, I am an ICQ user, so this may not apply to AIM, but there should be a chat history, a record of the messages sent to/from a user. Now, in order for the kid to know where to go, either he knew the person already, or the address was sent to him over IM. The mother should be able to read back through the messages, and find the address (if it's a stranger) and/or what they were intending to do there. Besides, the person's address might not be where they were meeting. It's possible this was legit, but I am very suspicious.

  • DING! DING! DING!

    We have a winner!

    I couldn't even get a phone line in my room.

  • by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @08:23AM (#350633)
    Don't put a computer or a TV in their room. Force them to watch TV and use the computer in a room where the parents frequently are, like the living room.
    --
    Lord Nimon
  • "A woman frantically explained her catastrophe. Her young son had been chatting online, and when she went to get him for dinner, she found his room empty. A last instant message was posted on the screen: "See you soon, can't wait." She begged me for the name and address of the person behind the dangling screen name. I had the information right in front of me, but I couldn't give it to her."

    Suppose something happens to this boy. IANAL, but couldn't AOL be held criminally negligent in this case? Shouldn't they have a policy of working with law enforcement in these matters? They may not be able to give the address to just anyone who calls in. I understand that. But couldn't they give the information to the local authorities, and work with them to protect this boy from someone who may harm him?
  • how the hell would you know that's really the parent calling? What if it was some nutcase stalker?

    What if the same question was asked of a phone company?

    Yeah, just chuck out law and order when it gets tough for you. Good answer.

    Not saying they shouldn't have ways of getting, say, in touch with the police when something like that comes up, so the right channels can be followed, but that's so far out of the realm of something you'd want someone making $7 / hour deciding...

    Glad that isn't you too... I can jut imaging you giving away my personal info to some axe murdering fiend who said she was my mom.
  • AssMan is not a role playing name. You should have been banned.
  • The Cult of $cientology destroyed the anonymouty of funet.fi after someone posted their secret holy scriptures (the horrifically bad science fiction we read last week here on slashdot) to USENET.

    They did this by posting naked pictures of children through the same anonymous server, then reporting the same to the Finland police, who naturally demanded the list of actual user names. As it was not a double-blind system, the administrators were forced to comply. The Co$ then had no trouble extracting the true target of their efforts and suing said person into oblivion.

    While not identical to the social engineering described before, the technique they used bore striking similarities.

    Oddly, as far as I know, no one from the Cult of Scientology was ever arrested for peddling the child pornography they themselves sent through the anonymous remailer. Funny, that.
  • When it finally became un-slashdotted, I was able to read the article. Yawn. It's not particularly well-written, it says nothing new or shocking, it's all about how someone got job burnout. Big deal.
  • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @09:35AM (#350644)
    The predominant thinking here seems to be that this kid was going to be abducted by some old creep or something. Strange... when I think of that message, my first thought was 'he probably snuck out to see his girlfriend'.

    I think the issue here has nothing to do with AOL, rather why this kid doesn't tell his mother where he's going when he leaves. But of course I forget, everyone who's not on /. is a pervert who abducts kids.

    A LOT of kids (especially teens) chat with their friends online. No need to make a capital case out of it. You better believe the phone company wouldn't release the personal info if this kid had used the phone instead of a chat room. Or are slashdotters secretly technophobes too?

  • There was a case a while ago where there was a web page run my an anonymous member of the u.s. navy dedicated to gay sex.
    Just to be pedantic, it wasn't a web page "dedicated to gay sex." In his AOL profile, under marital status, he said he was gay. That's it, nothing more.
  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @09:37AM (#350646) Homepage
    Huh. You must have been stapled to your mommy's apron strings as a child. I'll bet the other kids got a kick out of that.

    I used to go off into the woods, unsupervised, in grade school.
    I used to walk home from school, unsupervised, almost every day.
    I sat on my bed and read books, unsupervised.
    I climbed trees, unsupervised.
    I played video games, unsupervised.
    I programmed my old Apple IIe, unsupervised.
    I rode my bike all over the neighborhood for entire afternoons, unsupervised.
    I played baseball in the street, unsupervised.
    I went to the public library, unsupervised.

    Yet I'd laugh in your face if you even to even suggest that my parents were negligent. My parents raised me to be an individual with a spirit and responsibilities of my own. I cannot even begin to express how glad I am that they did not tower over me every waking minute of the day. I wouldn't have grown into a person; I would have become a spineless, simpering cur, incapable of taking the slightest bit of independent action or thought.

    Don't confuse responsibility with supervision. Constant supervision is most certainly not a responsible way to raise a child.

  • RoadRunner = Time Warner Cable = AOL
  • You may agree, you may disagree. But a community has to have some standards.

    I look at it this way: AOL is not Usenet. Fact is, they need to keep paying customers. Censorship (or at least segregation of controversial stuff) is probably all but required for them. Now, see, outside the AOL sandbox we don't need that.

    Just remember that whether you agree or not with an idea, there's *usually* a legitimate other side to the story. I happen to be not in favor of censorship myself, but there is a place for it, and if nothing else keeping deliberately inflammatory behavior in line is occasionally (but not universally) useful.

    /Brian
  • by rark ( 15224 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @11:07AM (#350658)
    I think you're missing the original point -- when your parents let you go out in the woods alone (I assume) they didn't ask the U.S. government to send a swat team in first to kill anything that might harm you and burn out all the poison ivy just for good measure.

    *constant* supervision is bad, but expecting everyone to take care of your kids for you is worse.

  • Oh yeah. This from someone who can't even take responsibility for their POSTS!

    So how do you propose raising kids? Chain them up until they're 18? This is a serious question here--are you planning on not giving your kids any freedom at all as they grow up?

    And my kids are doing just fine, thank you. They're learning that freedom requires responsibility, and is not a right.

  • Abuse doesn't require physical force to make you do it. You can be abused even though you have "chosen" to participate.

    There are numerous examples of "talent" being coerced to do things they don't want to because they had to. Read something about one actress being coerced into anal sex or the producer wouldn't pay for the surgery she needed for a bad boob job as she was promised. Sure she could choose not do it and face the consequences (risking losing her breasts or whatever).

    Btw, since American law doesn't allow certain acts (fisting for example) the producers take that kind of things over to eastern Europe. There you can always find young women "choosing" to do the most vile acts because they need the money to survive.

    I read an article (always taken with a large grain of salt because journalists are lying bastards) covering trafficking - mafia-like organizations selling children and women to prostitution and other abuse. I would think pornography is not isolated from such things.

    Anyway, my point is that it can be abuse with or without choice.

    Btw, I don't believe in censorship or legislation, but that doesn't mean these women (or in a some cases - men) aren't abused.

    /mill
  • by HomerJ ( 11142 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @11:50AM (#350673)
    Ok, no, I'm not for giving out names and numbers for everyone that asks for them from an ISP.

    But AOL isn't an ISP, AOL isn't even the internet. If the whole Internet just died tomorrow, AOL would be alive and kicking sans it's web access and ability to half ass use other tcp/ip programs though it.

    AOL isn't the public internet, it's a private network. In a private setting, the constitution doesn't mean a thing. You have no right to privacy. Your only option is that if you dont' like it, leave.

    Maybe they shouldn't have given that mother that number, but they should have at least called the police, and informed them of it situation. That's what you should get by using a private network. As far as AOL is concerend, they should know everything about the people that use their network. If that means personal information of 20-30 million people, so be it. It's those people that CHOOSE to be on that private network, they weren't forced on.

    I'm not for censoring the internet in any way, shape or form. It's a public forum. But AOL isn't public, it's private. They advertise about safety and child seurity of their private network. They should start taking some steps to doing so. If that means sacraficing some of their member's privacy by giving their names to police, etc. then so be it.

    I just can't say it enough that what happens on AOL is not the internet, as a private network, they don't play by the same rules. They shouldn't play by the same rules. Just like partents who send their childern to private schools so they can get education like religion that can't be taught in public schools, people should use AOL for protection that they shouldn't legally be able to get though a normal ISP.

    That's why I feel like they didn't do their job. AOL is NOT the internet, and people should stop treating it like it is. It is a private network.
  • Why use imperfect mechanisms to block childrens' access to "adult content"? Why not use a little old-fashioned thought? You've got one of the most amazing life forms in existence to "protect", so why not make it a responsibility for them to learn? You've got a chance to teach your kids how to think for themselves rather than to blindly obey authority, and that's what you should do. My parents let me make my own mind up as I became a teenager and it's payed off. I'd much rather go to a site, realize it's worthless, and never return than not be allowed to the site at all and never know if the information is worth looking at. Does censor-ware block /.? I hope not, this is certainly a great place to read other peoples' opinions and the reasons for them as well. If you had a choice between covering your childrens' eyes when you walk past an adult bookstore or to explain to them what the place is and why it's not a good place, which do you think would be more helpful when they're walking past it four or five years later with their friends? It boils down to the idea of informed decisions. If you have no prior knowledge or something, how can you be expected to make an informed decision about it? If you know what it is (truly what it is, not some distorted version created through propaganda and nonsense) then you're a lot safer and a lot more aware of your environment.

    -HobophobE
  • . Constant supervision is most certainly not a responsible way to raise a child.

    You are confusing constant supervision with dictation of action. Supervising a child does not remove individuality from them. Supervising a child does not mean that you have to prevent them from making their own decisions. Supervising a child does not mean that you have to prevent them from making mistakes. Supervision means being aware of the environment that your child is in. Constant supervision is necessary in any environment untill the child is capable of handling the environment on their own. Whether that is the living room, the back yard, school, their friends house, etc. While it is not irresponsible to allow children to play in the woods in grade school, it is irresponsible to not go with them untill they learn how to survive in the woods on their own.

    A responsible parent ensures that a mistake that a child makes becomes fixed and that the child learns from it. Whether it is fixed by the child, when possible, or by the parent, when the child cant. A parent cannot fix the mistakes their child makes if they are not around. If the child has not been taught how to fix their own mistakes when not supervised, serious accidents can happen.

  • vulg4r_m0nk wrote:

    "Another example to think about here is the impressive number of young nekkid chicks all over the Web -- how many of them actually understand that those pictures will never, ever go away? "

    I often wonder this myself. I think that this will be somewhat mitigated by the fact that there are SO SO many of them. Just like all the people who smoked pot or snorted coke in the 70's. "everybody does it" diminishes the badness of it until we have a US President who was a blow monkey.

    I just can't wait until the nudie teenage anal sex pics of the US President in 2020 are posted.

    "I didn't ejaculate. . ."
    yeah, right.
  • The security just wasn't about losing his or her job.

    If you give out another customer's personal information for any reason other than the strict guidelines, if the situation isn't as it was represented, you could be giving the info of a target TO the child molester. You could not only open AOL up to a lawsuit, but yourself, personally as well. $7/hr is one thing, but being held financially responsible for a death or molestation is another. Stick to the plan, follow orders.
  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2001 @02:21PM (#350692) Homepage
    There is no way in the world I would let my four-year-old drive a car, or go across the street by herself, or stay at a mall unattended, or walk around the block with a sixteen-year-old boy who thought she was cute and who couldn't keep his eyes off of her. These are all appropriate things to permit a sixteen year old girl to do (maybe - depending on the boy :) Surely you would agree that some actions are appropriate for a teen that aren't appropriate for a preschooler. Why not some knowledge? Would you try to teach differentiation of transcendental functions to a child who hadn't grasped counting? Or fractal transformations to a child that hadn't mastered the names of shapes? Do you think that gradually teaching children what they need to know can be a good thing?

    Let's talk about death. My four-year-old does not need a gut-level understanding of the horror of the holocaust. She doesn't need to see bodies in a morgue. She doesn't need to know how horrific death can be. For that matter, she doesn't have to realize that she will die some day. She does have to realize that her 70-year-old grandparents may not always be here. Why? Real, deep knowledge of her own and others' mortality is too much for her to handle at her age; it would lead (unnecessarily) to nightmares, to a fear of risk-taking, to a fear of the world in general. Can't climb a tree, might fall down and die. Can't pet the dog, might rip me to shreds. Can't go to sleep; clown will eat me :) And what would the benefit be? Why does she have to know the horrors of the world NOW? However, the reality is that her grandparents COULD go at any time. She needs preparation for that. If she contracted some disease that would kill her, she'd have to realize that she was going to die. As she grows and matures and becomes more and more capable of dealing with reality, I will ABSOLUTELY see to it she has the knowledge necessary to deal with reality.

    Let's talk about sex. I was a teacher for a while, and one of the legal requirements of my job was to report suspicions of child abuse. If a young child was able to give a detailed explanation of oral sex, the parents would find themselves in a police station pretty quickly. Too-extensive knowledge of sexuality at that age is a strong indicator of sexual abuse, and with good reason.

    Do I think that anyone else should decide how I raise my child? No. Do I think anyone else should decide what I see? No. Do I think that I should decide how best to protect my child and provide her with the knowledge she needs? Absolutely.

    On the other pseudopod, I knew a family which became EXTREMELY upset because someone used the word 'penis' in front of their 17-year-old daughter (the word was used clinically to describe a medical procedure). DO I think that those parents are a few miles around the bend? Absolutely.

    To raise your kids, hide the part of reality you don't think is appropriate for them and it will magically go away.
    No, gradually reveal reality - not all at once. It's too much for them.
  • by jafac ( 1449 )
    zeitlow wrote:
    The pay wasn't very good it was only $8 starting out and if you were super lucky and had your 8 minute call time average, among other things. Hurry up get them off the phone, we don't care if it is fixed, as long as you have an 8 minute call time, you would get a whole $.50 raise

    This is pretty standard throughout the tech support industry. At my company, we flirted with policies like that for many years, and there's definately that emphasis for first line support, but in the end, we all realized, and 2nd line had to make this point to management, that quantity of calls does not equal quality, and in some cases, using bandaids to mask problems will make the situation worse, because if it doesn't get into more capable hands, and get some time spent, a bug can end up costing the company a lot of money in answering repeated calls on the same problem. Once the more experienced techs can point to some problem like this; "we get X calls a day on this issue, costing us Y. The method of dealing with this problem is a reinstall, but we never get the troubleshooting info because nobody wants us to spend the time working on it. All it will take is one 2nd line tech working on this case, and we can reduce the call time for this issue to the time it takes to get the customer to download the patch. Tech bulletins can eliminate some of those calls, and the next release will eliminate all of them if we can get the bugfix worked into the next release (which happens a lot less often than you'd think)."
    It's just a matter of explaining the costs to the bean counters.
  • True enough; freedom is a right once you legally become an adult. However, we're talking about raising kids here, so that's something of a moot point.

    Regardless, even as an adult your right to freedom only goes so far. You're only free to operate within the law, in what amounts to a responsible manner. As parents, we have to teach our kids what responsibility is, what it means with regards to freedom, and then give them some space to learn for themselves. Following your kids around every single minute for 18 years is _not_ the best way to raise adults capable of dealing with society, etc.

  • There are two possibilities with the last tale of the woman and her son:
    • She could have been lieing through her teeth -- trying to get the address of someone for some nefarious (or benign) reason -- hoping that a sob story of a run-away son would get AOL to break the rules.

      People can tell pretty convincing lies, just to get what they want. I remember I once managed to well up crocodile tears trying to talk my way out of something I was guilty of. (I later got caught). Both cons and actors are professionally trained for the task.

    • It's possible that she really is a freaked-out mom trying to figure out where her son is. In this case, unless there's something we weren't told -- like the message previous to that was some guy telling her son how he'd like to make him look like the goatsex guy -- I'd be inclined to bet my money that it's a false alarm. 90% probability that her son is doing something like going off to the Eminim concert, or meeting his (secret) girlfriend.

      Even if it turns out to be something nasty going on, you still want a court order -- i.e. she should go through the police. If it turns out that her son's gone off to meet with Geoffrey Dahmler, what's she going to do by herself? Go out, track him down and become part of a mother/son two-course meal?

      The worst case would be she prepares for the worst, goes out armed to the teeth, and ends up putting a bullet through the head of the guy who answers the door -- finding out later that it's her son's girlfriends dad.

      If it was me, the only thing I would have done different would have been to mention that "I can't do anything without a court order". If she's legit, then she can call the cops. If not, then she'll go away.

    WIth respect to how nasy people can be, consider the math: Let's consider 99.5% of all users to be normal. The other 0.5% are the ones we'll consider 'deviant'. Out of the N million AOL users, this is still going to give you thousands of people to deal with. This isn't "all AOL users", or even "most" of them. This is 0.5%.

    To put it in a more personal perspective: In a school of 500 kids, this would be two or three people. What are the three most whacked-out stories you heard about people in your school? Extend that out a few years for them to get some practice, and you've got the AOL top .5% . Now multiply that by 20 thousand and you've got the CAP caseload. Not too hard, is it?
    --

  • They're about as private as your e-mail, which your ISP can read whenever they want. You waived any rights you may have had when you signed up for the service. Read the user agreement - yeah, the one you clicked "I Agree" on without thinking.

    --

  • Filtering software is a parent's worse enemy.. WTF people can't understand that is beyond me. Even if it worked 99% of the time (and they don't), that 1% will be found and if so, it might as well not be there. Filtering software lulls parents into a false sense of security.

    Learn all the naughty words in a foreign language, search with Google, and have access all the filth you can stomach.

    French and Spanish will do for simplicity, but Japanese and Russian turn up the most hits. :)

  • If you find hardcore porn to be boring, I surmise you must have seen a ton of it.

    Some people find it stimulating, and some people find it revolting, but no one ever found it boring except through constant exposure.

  • This is a protestant/christian belief that the body and sex are an ugly thing.

    Oh, rubbish. The sex industry is generally frowned upon in every country in the world including Thailand.

    It is a Protestant belief, Catholic belief, Greek & Eastern othodox belief, Muslim belief, and Buddhist belief (Theravada and Mahayana). Also, the pornography controls in the former Soviet Union and today in China were/are quite strong (China's are *very* strong). So I must assume that it is a Marxist/Lenninist and Maoist belief as well.

    I know some parts of Europe are more liberal about porn than some parts of the US, but that doesn't make "fear of sexuality" a "problem" particular to stodgy and puritanical christian Americans.

  • No, but nature/god/what have you released far more dangerous things into the woods in which *I* played as a child. Cougars and rattle snakes are generally much more deadly than porn, spam or even bomb making instructions. And that doesn't even take into account the possibility that some pervert might have been hiding back there (a remote, but scary, possibility).

    The world is not safe. It has never been safe (at least not since God cast Adam and Eve out ofthe garden, if you happen to believe that. I don't) The only time you'll be safe is when you're dead. The only time your children will be safe is when they are dead. It's your responsibility to raise your children, and protect them as you see fit. It is not my responsibility to do so, nor is it your responsibility to raise my children and protect them as you see fit.

    This isn't to say that real dangers shouldn't be dealt with. I'm all for killing or confining cougars who have eaten humans, but I am against doing the same for cougars who have not. In a similar vein, I am all for killing or confining those who would rape or kill those of any age, but esspecially children, but I cannot condone the outlawing of porn (spam is a different matter -- defined as that which uses other peoples resources it is theft, not speech, which is the issue) even though I feel that it is used to spread societal memes of female subordination and male domination/violence. To do so would be to institute laws against thought. That's a much bigger crime against humanity than anything ever said.

  • I'm posting from Japan.

    Yes, there are vending machines here with soiled undies. The residents find them revolting.

    The Japanese public considers pornography and sex crime to be serious social problems.

  • (Not a parent, so this is an abstract question)

    I'd do that, BUT below 11-12 (for example) I'd do positive filtering (you can't look at unless I've said so) as well. There's far too much rubbish out there and I don't want to scare kids who make an innocent mistake.

    Believe me, there's far worse stuff than porn on the net.

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