To this day, Garden Chat appears to be one of the most active chatrooms on AOL.But now the room is completely different.“We got invaded,” Bird tells ). Using what sounds like a simple trick, a user can also access their friends’ latest pending friend-requests and which friends they share in common. Unbelievable I thought, until I just tested the exploit for myself. In other words, a privacy (Hat-tip: @Scott56r and @Laird_Attwood) Update: After a few hours Facebook sent us this statement. Today I was tipped off that there is a major security flaw in the social networking site that, with just a few mouse clicks, enables any user to view the of their ‘friends’. The irony is that the exploit is enabled by they way that Facebook lets you preview your own privacy settings.“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.Of course, celebrities were involved in this new way to connect with the fans.But much of the time, the conversations are much more colorful — in that they’re splashed with expletives.“Lately my favorite room has gotten a bunch of pervert-nasty people,” Bird says.She calls them “disruptors.” When I ask her what the disruptors do, she says, “If you were reading Garden Chat right now, you would see. That’s not fun.”Bird misses the days when people would talk about growing annuals and perennials.
Chat will be turned back on across the site shortly.A press release from 1997 promotes a calendar of events that included an online chat with each of the Spice Girls and a downloadable audio greeting from Oprah Winfrey (in honor of Mother’s Day).Others weren’t so impressed: “Any performance skills you have go out the window,” complained comedian Jay Leno in a 1995 Now, some twenty years later, the once-vibrant chatroom communities of AOL have nearly disappeared, but they are still there … About 1,500 people can be counted in all of AOL’s public chatrooms today, a number that in the ‘90s wouldn’t have even matched a large “auditorium”-style room where celebrities would hold court.Users could also create private and public chatrooms and host scheduled events.Initially, mostly tech-minded people joined AOL chatrooms, since at the time, it wasn’t as common to own a home computer.At the pinnacle of AOL, the company had 35 million paying subscribers. When it was still called Quantum Computer Services, the company debuted chatrooms.“That was a huge focus of the service,” Joe Schober, who was a beta tester at Quantum Computing Services in the late 1980s and officially worked for AOL from 1992 to 2014, tells Regular chat rooms could hold up to 23 people.