A Letter to AOL’s Journal Editors


This was sent to AOL earlier today, but I wanted to reproduce it here.  I’ll let you know if a response is ever received.

Dear Editors,

I am writing to you on behalf of several journal writers within AOL who are confused about the sudden disappearance of a fellow writer’s journal. From what I understand, the journal in question has been deleted in its entirety and the explanation given to the user by AOL was that a recent photo uploaded to that user’s FTP space violated the Terms of Service. Rather than deleting the single photo, the entire journal was knocked offline.

In the past, another journaler’s entire FTP space was cleaned out because of a complaint about a simple stick figure drawing that someone apparently found questionable: rather than deleting the single image, everything in the journaler’s FTP space was emptied.

As a journaler here in AOL, I am concerned about this because I do not understand the methodology that your department is using to address questions of TOS violations. If a single image is in question, why would an ENTIRE journal or one’s ENTIRE FTP space be wiped out? Why would a user not be warned in advance of a problem and given a chance to straighten the matter out before such extreme action was taken?

I appreciate the fact that your department has the difficult task of trying to enforce rules of decency that can’t possibly be spelled out specifically because different people have very different personal standards. I am just concerned about how such problems are addressed when they arise. Is there a standard operating procedure? Is it possible that there is someone “hacking in” to AOL’s system to upload inappropriate material? What can the rest of us do to protect ourselves from false accusations and the actions described here that have occurred apparently without giving the users the chance to rectify the situation before their entire journal was demolished?

I also appreciate the fact that you cannot reveal specific details about actions you have taken to certain users. I’m not asking you to do so. I just want to know what the official policy is for handling such matters. If I maysay so, the impression I have based on what I have read elsewhere seems a bit extreme and I am wondering if I might have misinterpreted something.

Thanks for your assistance in clearing up any confusion in this matter.

1 Comment

  1. Giving AOL — for everything, not just blogging — is probably a good idea. Just as AOL has failed to understanding the shifting online paradigm, and has remained rooted in the early ’90s, it does not understand blogging at all. Better to simply give them the boot.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.