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In 2003, MSN axed many of its chatrooms across Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Over the course of the next decade, in light of plummeting usage, increased scrutiny over child solicitation and other unpleasantness, and competition from mobile and video chat, AOL and Yahoo would do the same. , we aspire to make the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining,” chirped Yahoo! “Sometimes, this means we have to make tough decisions — like closing down features that we feel aren’t adding enough value for you.” In other words, the market had spoken: The time of the chatroom had passed.
Combine that with the advent of new Internet technologies like DSL (which made AOL’s subscription model obsolete) and new paradigms for online social networking (think Friendster, Myspace and later, Facebook) and the chatroom’s demise was obvious, if not imminent, by the early aughts.) it seems to lack that critical quality that made early AIM, Yahoo Messenger and MSN fun: the edge of quirkiness, transgression and inventiveness.The feeling that this was a new and semi-lawless space, that unexpected things could happen.You never knew quite what, or who, you would find in a Compuserve chat — or, later, a chat on AOL (c. AOL’s chief architect and longest-serving employee, Joe Schober, once described the earliest AOL chatrooms as “little frontier towns”: small and unpolished, perhaps, but pioneering — like a spark in the big Internet void.If the Internet was an uncharted wilderness, however, the ‘90s were its Gold Rush.