20-year-old chat client AIM is finally closing its doors

Polycount

TS Evangelist
Staff member

If you were an avid internet user at any point during the late 1990's and early 2000's, you've probably at least heard of AOL Instant Messenger, better known as AIM. While the service started as one part of the more complete AOL Desktop suite (which included email and web browsing features), AOL later turned the service into its own standalone chat client.

After around 20 years of operation, AIM's parent company Oath (formerly AOL) has announced the once-popular chat client's imminent shutdown on December 15th. The following announcement excerpt briefly explains the company's reasoning: "AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed. As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017. We are more excited than ever to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world." Michael Albers, Oath VP of Communications Product.

Though AIM has undoubtedly retained a core fanbase that will continue to use the client until the very end, there's no denying that its popularity has decreased significantly with the release of other, better messaging services in the past several years.

Services like Facebook's own Messenger, WhatsApp and even (to a lesser degree) Google's Allo have long overshadowed AIM with their improved feature sets, more convenient mobile access and various other advantages.

Indeed, with Oath letting the vast majority of the chat client's support staff go back in 2012 it's a wonder the service has managed to avoid the chopping block for as long as it has.

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OutlawCecil

TS Evangelist
Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps are rated among the top (if not, THE top) riskiest apps. They have way more permissions then they should and people have found both apps "leak" tons of information back to Facebook that they shouldn't. That mixed with how firmly Facebook pushes their app and messenger (making the web mobile version on your phone almost impossible to use) has steered me far away. Maybe stick with WhatsApp or similar if you are upset with AIM going away...
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Stopped using AIM years ago, in fact I didn't even realize it was still around. It gets kudo's for it's pioneering work as it slips into obscurity ......
 

avioza

TS Maniac
Well I have been down to three friends on my list but they were people I cared to communicate with the most. It was nice to use not having to be logged in to facebook.

I suppose there is still iRC...
 
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Carmaine

TS Booster
Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps are rated among the top (if not, THE top) riskiest apps. They have way more permissions then they should and people have found both apps "leak" tons of information back to Facebook that they shouldn't. That mixed with how firmly Facebook pushes their app and messenger (making the web mobile version on your phone almost impossible to use) has steered me far away. Maybe stick with WhatsApp or similar if you are upset with AIM going away...
An honest and civil question.

What information is being "leaked" back to Facebook that puts me or my family at risk?
 

avioza

TS Maniac
An honest and civil question.

What information is being "leaked" back to Facebook that puts me or my family at risk?
Browsing and commenting habits. Political leanings. Interests that may in some possible future become incriminating in an increasingly distopian society. I suppose that is still out there on the web but facebook owns an increasingly large amount of that information.

But probably there is nothing to worry about. It also depends on how you use it.
 

madboyv1

TechSpot Paladin
I stopped using 1st party clients a long time ago in favor of Trillian, but I've continued using my AIM accounts even to this day... Granted, most of my friends lists have all but dried up with people not using various services anymore, but I'll have to talk with those that I still communicate with on what we'll move to next (or if I can get them onto Trillian lol)
 

Carmaine

TS Booster
It also depends on how you use it.
I agree. I'm only speaking for myself here, but in this day and age, it's also if you care or not. Cause at this point, I really don't mind it. I'm sure my ISP definitely knows my browsing habits since it has known ALL the websites I've been through and probably has all my posts, including this one, keylogged for all I know. Hahaha
 

cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
If it is anything more than chit chat, I will call them. Might not be completely secure, but more secure than any messenger app. Anyone looking for total security, better do so face to face in a soundproof room without lighting.
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
I would argue that IMs were superior to the garbage we have to deal with now in nearly every respect. I can't think of a single thing I can do on FBM that I couldn't do on ICQ or MSN Messenger, and we didn't have to worry about the continual spying and profiling, either.
 

OutlawCecil

TS Evangelist
What information is being "leaked" back to Facebook that puts me or my family at risk?
Without making assumptions, let me answer and just give the permissions the facebook app requires. Straight from the horses mouth. You make judgements on what the app needs some of these for.

Retrieve list of app history and currently running apps
Find accounts on the device
Add or remove accounts
Read your own contact card
Read calendar events plus confidential information
Add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owners' knowledge
Find contact accounts on the device
Read your contacts
Modify your contacts
Get pproximate location (network-based)
Get precise location (GPS and network-based)
Read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
Directly call phone numbers
Read call log
Read phone status and identity
Write call log
Read & Modify the contents of your USB storage
Read & Modify the contents of your USB storage
Take pictures and videos
Record audio
View Wi-Fi connections
Read phone status and identity
Download files without notification
Adjust your wallpaper size
Receive data from Internet
View network connections
Create accounts and set passwords
Read battery statistics
Send sticky broadcast
Change network connectivity
Connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
Expand/collapse status bar
Full network access
Change your audio settings
Read sync settings
Run at startup
Reorder running apps
Set wallpaper
Draw over other apps
Control vibration
Prevent device from sleeping
Toggle sync on and off
Install shortcuts
Read Google service configuration
 

Carmaine

TS Booster
Without making assumptions, let me answer and just give the permissions the facebook app requires. Straight from the horses mouth. You make judgements on what the app needs some of these for.

Retrieve list of app history and currently running apps
Find accounts on the device
Add or remove accounts
Read your own contact card
Read calendar events plus confidential information
Add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owners' knowledge
Find contact accounts on the device
Read your contacts
Modify your contacts
Get pproximate location (network-based)
Get precise location (GPS and network-based)
Read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
Directly call phone numbers
Read call log
Read phone status and identity
Write call log
Read & Modify the contents of your USB storage
Read & Modify the contents of your USB storage
Take pictures and videos
Record audio
View Wi-Fi connections
Read phone status and identity
Download files without notification
Adjust your wallpaper size
Receive data from Internet
View network connections
Create accounts and set passwords
Read battery statistics
Send sticky broadcast
Change network connectivity
Connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
Expand/collapse status bar
Full network access
Change your audio settings
Read sync settings
Run at startup
Reorder running apps
Set wallpaper
Draw over other apps
Control vibration
Prevent device from sleeping
Toggle sync on and off
Install shortcuts
Read Google service configuration
OK. Now that you've outlined these permissions, that pretty much answers 1 of the 2 questions.

The other question now is, based on all these permissions, what risks does it pose towards me or my family that affects our daily routine in life?
 

OutlawCecil

TS Evangelist
based on all these permissions, what risks does it pose towards me or my family that affects our daily routine in life?
First of all, I'm not one of those conspiracy theory "big brother" believers out there. But there is such a thing as being reasonably cautious.
Facebook can use the information from the 989 million users of the mobile app (reported in 2016) to sell to advertisers and make a profit off of your personal life. If that doesn't bother you, how about knowing Facebook can track your exact location, know who you've been contacting and what you've been telling them via messages. They can get real time audio and video, remotely download & install other apps, and even pull all of your phone's contacts without any actions needed by the end-user. Now to me, this all sounds more like something a hacker would need, not a social media website. Some people out there believe the CIA owns or at least has access to everything on Facebook. I don't quite believe that but you can't argue that if the right people had the right pull, and forced Facebook to comply, they could take complete control of your phone and thus, a major part of your life.

In the end, my only real point here is, a social media website does NOT need access to every aspect of your phone. Why does their app require it if everybody assumes "they wouldn't do that!"?
 

Carmaine

TS Booster
First of all, I'm not one of those conspiracy theory "big brother" believers out there. But there is such a thing as being reasonably cautious.
Facebook can use the information from the 989 million users of the mobile app (reported in 2016) to sell to advertisers and make a profit off of your personal life. If that doesn't bother you, how about knowing Facebook can track your exact location, know who you've been contacting and what you've been telling them via messages. They can get real time audio and video, remotely download & install other apps, and even pull all of your phone's contacts without any actions needed by the end-user. Now to me, this all sounds more like something a hacker would need, not a social media website. Some people out there believe the CIA owns or at least has access to everything on Facebook. I don't quite believe that but you can't argue that if the right people had the right pull, and forced Facebook to comply, they could take complete control of your phone and thus, a major part of your life.

In the end, my only real point here is, a social media website does NOT need access to every aspect of your phone. Why does their app require it if everybody assumes "they wouldn't do that!"?
Yea, like I said in an earlier post, it's also a matter of whether it bothers you or not. I think regardless of the apps use, there's still going be some spying involved. At least Facebook listed out these permissions for the consumer to decide. If they agree to it, then they're responsible for their actions.

The bigger picture are Google and Apple. The amount of people around the world that use their phones are in the billions. Many of which, don't even use Facebook at all. And in this day and age, it's not hard to believe the idea that these people are definitely spied on to the same level or more than Facebook does, WITHOUT their knowledge and used for financial gain or whatever.