AOL: Stick a fork in them; They are done.

AOL is hitting bottom when it comes to brand image. This story comes on the heels of the recorded phone call with customer service disaster as well as a just-in story about a woman who is unable to cancel her deceased father’s AOL account, nine months after his death.  Most recently AOL announced their brilliant new strategic direction to attempt to remake themselves in the image of Yahoo. 

Now, they have now pulled the ultimate in violating the privacy of their subscribers by release a list of 20 million + searches by 500,000 AOL users.  Contained in this list are social security numbers, credit cards and other personal information.   There are some truly scary things in this database.

AOL must have missed the uproar over the DOJ’s demand for “anonymized” search data last year that caused all sorts of pain for Microsoft and Google. That’s the only way to explain their release of data that includes 20 million web queries from 650,000 AOL users.

Although AOL has removed the data from their site,  a cached copy of it is freely available here.

AOL is now apologizing for the release …, calling it a “screw-up,” which they’re upset and angry about.”

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