DIscuss: Facebook is what AOL used to be. The Mainstream 'Internet.'


I’m dumb for taking this long to realize Facebook is what AOL usd to be. The walled garden for other users of the same service that technically can get online to the rest of the web, but generally don’t because for them facebook is ‘enough.’ You have your shared groups (My mom gets a lot of use out of a local swap-meet group,) you can use it to keep tabs on friends and family. It has its own toxic memes and spawned its own subcultures, terms, and at this point i think the only reason facebook isn’t an ISP is because of the Teleco stranglehold on the market.

There are of course differences. AOL was a bundled ISP and content service. Facebook is a destination your ISP takes you to… It’s free vs aol’s having to pay to get in, and as i mentioned AOL as ISP plus portal/garden vs facebook being a ‘free’ garden where you’re the thing being marketed as your data is harvested. I’m not sure if AOL did data aggrigation in the sense we understand it today.


I think the comparison is nicely apt, and with Free Basics, facebook really did try to become AOL. In a sense, though, given how much AOL is ridiculed compared to its one-time dominance, this post may be the most optimistic thing I’ve read all day.


If Facebook is what AOL used to be, someone needs to start writing punter progz.


The other day I was making some copies and printouts at Staples and saw someone sit down at the computer and fire up AOL. They paid something like $12/hr to sit there and use AOL as I made prints. It had the nostalgic feel of being in an internet cafe circa 1999.


I wouldn’t say FB is the main platform for toxic memes, though. It’s getting pretty bad over on Instagram. Many more people are choosing to post their racism/misogyny rather than plates of food anymore.



AOL may have been one of the last of the original dial-up walled gardens to fall to the Internet, but they didn’t hold a candle to the N00bs coming out of WebTV. What could go wrong when Microsoft offers a non-threatening way for grandmothers to access the internet through their home televisions?

One more defence of AOL: people forget that before AOL offered WWW access through their awful, proprietary browser, they actually offered USENET, Kermit, and Gopher/Archie/FTP if you knew where to look.


This is why the term “never ending September” was coined. It still works as a metaphor.

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