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Stay Away From AOL

After being recently exposed for deceptive and embarrassing customer service practices, you'd think AOL would do all it could hold onto what's left of their shrinking customer base and to stay out of the news. No chance of that, however, because a software watchdog group -- StopBadware.org -- posted an open inquiry recommending Internet users not download AOL 9.0 latest free software.

The reason: AOL's free client software shows signs of badware, meaning it downloads extra components on a computer without the user knowing about it or what the unknown software does. Among the other problems StopBadware.org has identified so far:

  • You can't uninstall the AOL software completely.
  • The software manipulates Microsoft's Internet Explorer by adding icons, an AOL toolbar and bookmarks to the user's list of favorite sites.
  • The AOL software updates automatically.

Of course, AOL bigwigs did their best to downplay the problems cited by StopBadware.org, calling them "minor" and "nonsubstantive" and claiming they would be fixed with the next upgrade due in September.

If you're one of those poor souls who still has an AOL account, there are plenty of other faster and cheaper Internet options available. When you're ready to make the switch, review this foolproof method for dumping AOL in three minutes or less.

New York Times August 29, 2006 Registration Required

CNET News.com August 28, 2006

StopBadware.org August 28, 2006

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