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Cutting AOL down to size

Editor’s note: Since this column was first published a month ago, AOL has fully cooperated with WorldNetDaily to resolve the major issues cited by Editor and CEO Joseph Farah.

AOL is too big for its breeches.

One of the great things about the Internet is the near-miraculous way it has leveled the media playing field to allow the WorldNetDailys and the Drudges to compete head to head with CNN and the New York Times.

But AOL, now a giant media conglomerate merged with Time Warner (including CNN) and partnering with outfits like the New York Times, has become too big. As a natural response to its own growth, it is actively attempting to squelch and squash upstarts like WorldNetDaily.

One way it does this is by “caching” WorldNetDaily’s site – delivering only a facsimile of our site to its subscribers. This permits AOL to charge its subscribers to receive our content while we get no benefit of it. In my book, that is called “stealing.” We can’t sell ads to be viewed by those AOL visitors because we have no record of them visiting our site. But AOL can sell ads for those visitors. Do you get the picture?

I have watched this kind of massive, blatant copyright violation take place for five years – patiently anticipating the day technology gives us a solution. It has not. I’ve hoped in vain that AOL would do the right thing and stop caching large independent sites like WorldNetDaily’s.

Caching creates another problem for readers. Often we hear from AOL subscribers who wonder why they are seeing older versions of WorldNetDaily rather than the current news. That’s why. Welcome to the wacky world of AOL. You may have mail, but you don’t have the Internet the way it is supposed to be viewed.

Let me tell you about another way AOL is attacking WorldNetDaily’s business.

Several weeks ago, many if not all AOL subscribers to WorldNetDaily e-mail news alerts stopped getting them. We thought this was a temporary glitch at first. We went through all the procedures outlined by AOL to correct the problem – carefully writing letters, responding to customer service requests for more information.

Still, AOL refuses to deliver WorldNetDaily’s subscribers the product they want.

Many AOL subscribers have become as frustrated as I am with this do-nothing attitude by the New Media giant.

Here’s an example of how a typical exchange goes between a customer and AOL customer service personnel:

Thank you for your response, but so far, everyone with whom I have corresponded has said they would report the problem so that it would be corrected … But, nothing has been corrected, nothing has changed. The bottom line here is that AOL has no right to censor my e-mail just because its content is not what they believe or like (this is not pornographic, it isn’t subversive, it isn’t depraved; it is a news site).

Also, I’d like to correct one thing you wrote: “I understand from your e-mail that your communication through e-mail with other internet provider is being blocked by the AOL Server.” This problem had nothing to do with another ISP; I had contacted the newsletter’s editor to ask for his help in getting the delivery unblocked. He had been trying for two weeks, and never even heard back from AOL.

Anyway, this has gone on long enough (you are the fifth person I’ve dealt with; I started writing on 11/6/01); I would really appreciate it if someone could fix this problem already.

Did that get any results?


This reader went on to threaten AOL with reporting the matter to the U.S. Congress. Will it take an act of Congress to get AOL to deliver the e-mail its readers want? Is it necessary to turn this simple matter into a federal case?

It may be for WorldNetDaily.

Maybe there’s a litigator out there who would like to make an example of AOL on a contingency basis. If so, I hope to hear from him or her.

In the meantime, I’m sure there are tens of thousands of people viewing a hijacked version of WorldNetDaily through AOL’s theft who are getting angry that they can’t get our mail.

Maybe if you bury AOL’s customer service people in demands, we might yet see some action.

The address, for those interested, is [email protected]