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ike Riccardi would spend hours in chatrooms hosted by America Online as a teenager.
It’s incredibly difficult to even use the chatrooms, because you need AOL Desktop, a free program that when downloaded, feels like a glimpse back into the days of dial-up. And, just like in the 1990s, people looking for sex. She’s 72, and in her free time, she likes making miniature scenes and working in her garden.Now primarily a digital media company, AOL — it owns about them: the company refused to make anyone available for this story. But when she has about an hour, she’ll log on to chat.She’s used chatrooms for the past 16 years, ever since her kids introduced her to AOL.There was little trolling.“It wasn’t a troublesome space,” Weger says.
“I have to imagine moderating spaces online in 2017. It was more often you had to remind people what the values and norms of the room were.”Schober recalls that at AOL’s peak, AOL would sometimes gain over 70,000 users a day, causing chatroom communities to rapidly evolve.
“It was really cool, because even if your parents were in the next room, they couldn’t hear what you were talking about because you’re typing on your keyboard.”At AOL’s peak, more than 100 million AOL screen names existed, and users spent over a million hours chatting a year.