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As Networking Trends Change, AOL Discontinues LISTSERV

Submitted by on November 10, 2011 – 2:06 pmNo Comment

America Online (AOL) recently ended their free LISTSERV email list service, illustrating a major shift in the power and means of social media in the last decade.

Once upon a time way back in the 1990s and 2000s, if you wanted to send a message to several people, you couldn’t post it to Facebook or send a private message through any of the numerous sites available now. Instead, you could blast an email list—and the most popular of these services was AOL’s LISTSERV.

For a few years, LISTSERV was the cutting edge of social networking, automating the time-consuming task of administering a mailing list for hundreds or even thousands of users. Before social media became a platform of Web site-based activity, email lists were often the best method available. For example, the Web site, Craigslist began as an email list of events and job postings in San Francisco.

At the same time, AOL was an almost monolithic power in providing Internet service and email.

But as Internet use habits changed, AOL’s services became more irrelevant and the company hemorrhaged users. Similarly, LISTSERV was not only replaced by Facebook newsfeeds and BlackBerry Messenger, but by free groups and email lists through Google and Yahoo.

Now, AOL is trying to reinvent itself as a content hub, no longer focusing on services like LISTSERV.

Still, many prefer the focus and easier search capabilities of a mailing list.

“You are coming to the mailing list to discuss a specific topic. When you are on a social media site, it is a bit of a free-for-all,” Eric Thomas, inventor of LISTSERV and now CEO of another mailing list service provider, told PC World.

What do you think? Do you still use email lists?

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