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Home --> Inboxer Rebellion --> Petitions --> Don't Kill The Messenger!

Don't Kill The Messenger!

Claim:   AOL, MSN, Yahoo!, or MSN is about to start charging for its instant messaging service unless an Internet petition opposing the fee increase attracts a specified number of signatures by a named date.

Status:   False.

Examples:  

[Collected on the Internet, 1999]

Dear America Online and Instant Message users,

Our America Online staff is planning to take away our Instant messages by July 14,1999. If you want to keep your Instant Messages free of charge, send this mail to everyone you know. It will be used as a petition. Each person you send this to, counts as one "signature." If this petition gets 100,000 "signatures," our Instant Messages will still be available at no extra charge. If America Online does not receive 100,000 "signatures," Instant Messages will still be available, but only to those who pay an extra 15.00 dollars a month. If you do not care about not getting any future Instant Messages, please send this for the sake of those who want to keep their Instant Messages free of charge. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Robert McDoggan
America Online
Assistance Director



[Collected on the Internet, 2001]

Dear MSN and Hotmail users:

MSN is planning to take away MSN Messanger by September 14th, 2001. If you want to keep our MSN Messanger free of charge, send this email to everyone you know. It will be used as a petition. Each person you send this to counts as one signature. If this petition gets 500,000 signatures they will keep MSN Messenger. If they do not receive 500,000 votes you will have to pay $25.00 to have Messenger (per month). If you don't care about this then please for everyone's sake help out a little. Thank you for your time and consideration and please help MSN beat their vote.



[Collected on the Internet, 2001]

Yahoo is planning to take away Yahoo Messenger by August 25th 2001. If you want to keep out Yahoo Messenger free of charge, send this to everyone you know. It will be used as a petition. Each person you send this to counts as a "signature" If this petition gets 1000,000 signatures they will keep Yahoo Messenger. If they do not receive 1000,000 votes you will have to pay $10.00 to have Messenger (per month). If you don't care about this then please for everyone.... copy and paste this message to everyone!



[Collected on the Internet, 2002]

America On-line and Instant Messages users:

Our America on-line staff is planning to take away IM by May 9th, 2002. If you want to keep our IM free of charge, send this email to everyone you know. It will be used as a petition. Each person you send this to counts as one "signature" If this petition gets 100,000 signatures they will keep AOL IM. If they do not receive 100,000 votes you will have to pay $15.00 to have IM (per month). If you don't care about this then please for everyone's sake help out a little. Thank you for your time and consideration and please help beat their vote send it to more people.



[Collected on the Internet, 2004]

This is probably just a rumor but.... Yahoo is shutting down August 17th. Yahoo wants to get rid of free messenger. If you delete this and don't pass it on, your name will be deleated. Alot of people have already been deleated. Right click on the group name of your buddy list and click "send to all in this group" Each person you send it to will count as a signature on a petition they have to get!!! Pass it on we don't want to have to pay for Yahoo.



[Collected on the Internet, 2005]

Don't know if this is a load of crap or not, but thought it wouldn't be wise to find out the hard way.

On the 1st of november , we will have to pay for the use of our MSN and email accounts unless we send this message to at least 18 contacts on your contact list. It's no joke if you don't believe me then go to the site ( www.msn.com ) and see for yourself. Anyways once you've sent this message to at least 18 contacts , your msn dude will become blue. please copy and paste don't forward cos people won't take notice of it otherwise

Origins:   Nothing impels netizens into action more quickly than a threat to their free services, as this hugely popular leg-pull proves!

As the ubiquitous "free money and merchandise for forwarding e-mail" hoax has demonstrated time and again, no Internet-based commercial jape is so absurd but that it can't be revived by simply changing the company name and a few other
details.

The AOL version of this hoax began appearing in inboxes during the summer of 1998. In June 1999 it was reprised by hoaxsters who had twiddled with the number of signatures required and the date action had to be taken by. Same leg-pull though; just new numbers. This same basic message is periodically updated with new deadlines and set loose to throw a scare into AOLers anew.

2001 saw the hoax directed at new targets as well as at AOL (which continues to have this rumor kited about it). These latest incarnations claim MSN or Yahoo! are about to impose a set fee per month for their heretofore free MSN Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger services unless petitions festooned with a specified number of "signatures" reach them by a named date. It's the same hoax, just different companies and services named. And there's still nothing to it.

Yahoo! states on its site:
Recently, some Yahoo! members have reported receiving either an email or an instant message that claims to be from Yahoo! and instructs the recipient to forward the message on to everyone in their address book or on their Friend List. The message falsely states that Yahoo! has run out of resources and will be closing the accounts of anyone who does not forward the message.

Please be assured that this is a hoax. There is simply no truth to this message, and your Yahoo! account will not be deleted because you do not forward the message.

If you receive such an email or instant message, the best way to deal with it is to simply delete or ignore it.
Real-time messaging was and continues to be a key component of AOL's success; start laying in additional charges for this service, and subscribers may well go elsewhere. Likewise, MSN and Yahoo! would be risking their market shares if they were to begin charging for what is freely available elsewhere. Other companies also bundle instant messaging capability into their basic service packages, and if AOL, MSN, or Yahoo! were to begin charging for a popular feature that others are providing for free, they could find themselves with an eroding subscriber base.

Similar phony warnings frame the same type of message about services other than instant messaging: if we don't collect enough signatures, a well-known service provider is going to start charging for a particular key feature, such as web page access. All these warnings are based on the premise that these large Internet presences have no idea their plans to saddle nearly all their users with new or extra charges will be quite unpopular, but if just a few thousand users (out of several million) complain in advance, they will see the light and rescind their proposed fee impositions or rate increases. AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! may be the butt of many Internet jokes, but they didn't get to be the huge companies they are by being that clueless.

Barbara "AOL's well that ends well" Mikkelson

Last updated:   4 January 2008

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