AOL offers tools to monitor instant-messaging

Most people think instant-messaging just plain vanishes. Or, rather, they hope like hell it vanishes, because the super-casual air of IM tends to encourage some pretty wild off-the-cuff conversations. The off-color stuff people say in IM makes Bill Gates’ infamous anti-Netscape emails seem tame and measured.

Of course, it’s always been possible for an employer to quietly log the IMs of its employees. But now AOL itself has decided to create tools that will make it super easy. To quote Bruce Stewart, AOL’s senior vice president:

“We heard from companies that they love AIM, but they want to be able to better manage its usage,” Stewart said. He said AOL is also offering a service that lets companies reserve specific AIM user names and plans to roll out encrypted messaging next year.

“Better able to manage its usage.” More gorgeous euphemisms are hard to come by.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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