Home AOL a ‘cyber sweatshop?’
News

AOL a ‘cyber sweatshop?’

Ronald Hanaki
Disclosure
Disclosure
In our content, we occasionally include affiliate links. Should you click on these links, we may earn a commission, though this incurs no additional cost to you. Your use of this website signifies your acceptance of our terms and conditions as well as our privacy policy.

AOL is about to be embroiled in a potential landmark labor law case. Forbes presents its three month investigation in a reprint of an article in the February 19, 2001 issue of the magazine.

For the past 10 years, AOL has used volunteers, as many as 16,000 annually, some as young as 12 years old. These volunteers have provided the very foundation of one of AOL’s chief revenue producers-its online communities that attract eyeballs and keep people connected-a component that one former executive estimates to be worth as much as 30% of the company’s annual revenue, which was $6.9 billion last year alone. Volunteers host chat rooms, discard offensive or inappropriate bulletin board postings, check postings for viruses, and otherwise act as AOL police to ensure that people adhere to the company’s terms of service. In return, they are given free usage, which prior to 1996 amounted to the equivalent of hundreds, even thousands of dollars for some, but which amounts to $19.95 a month under current subscription rates.

Greenberg says that under federal labor guidelines, AOL volunteers should be paid at least minimum wage and should be paid in cash. If he is right, the economic implications are staggering. Using the most conservative figures, if America Online had been forced to pay these volunteers in cash, it would not have shown a profit until fiscal year 1999-seven years later than it actually did. In all, since 1992, it would have had to spend nearly $1 billion in wages, or $166 million (see table) in the recently concluded fiscal year, an analysis of AOL’s own financial records shows.

The outcome of this case will have repercussions beyond just AOL.

The Tech Report - Editorial ProcessOur Editorial Process

The Tech Report editorial policy is centered on providing helpful, accurate content that offers real value to our readers. We only work with experienced writers who have specific knowledge in the topics they cover, including latest developments in technology, online privacy, cryptocurrencies, software, and more. Our editorial policy ensures that each topic is researched and curated by our in-house editors. We maintain rigorous journalistic standards, and every article is 100% written by real authors.

Latest News

WienerAI Surpasses $5.5M as ASI Token Merger Pushes AI Further
Crypto News

WienerAI Surpasses $5.5M as ASI Token Merger Pushes AI Further

Trump Doubles Down on Crypto Advocacy, Promises to Be the ‘Crypto President’
Crypto News

Trump Doubles Down on Crypto Advocacy, Promises to Be the ‘Crypto President’

Donald Trump declared he’d be the ‘crypto president’ at Craft Ventures’ fundraising event in San Francisco.  This intensifying crypto advocacy opposes the Democratic Party’s regulation-heavy approach. President Biden recently proposed...

WienerAI’s Trading Bot: The ChatGPT of Crypto – WienerAI Breaks $5.5M in Presale
Crypto News

WienerAI’s Trading Bot: The ChatGPT of Crypto – WienerAI Breaks $5.5M in Presale

One promising ERC-20 meme token has just announced several sneak peeks of its upcoming trading bot, and it riled up the community. WienerAI ($WAI) released four screenshots on X showing...

Everything Apple Announced At WWDC 2024
News

All Apple WWDC24 Announcements: iOS 18, Apple Intelligence (AI), Calculator App, and more

Elon Musk Threatens to Ban Apple Devices at His Companies Citing Privacy Risks with New Apple-ChatGPT Collaboration
News

Elon Musk Threatens to Ban Apple Devices at His Companies Citing Privacy Risks with New Apple-ChatGPT Collaboration

Solana (SOL) Price Prediction: Can Solana Price Touch $200 Amid Market Volatility?
Crypto News

Solana (SOL) Price Prediction: Can Solana Price Touch $200 Amid Market Volatility?

Analyst Claims XRP Rally Could Trigger a Significant Uptrend
Crypto News

Analyst Claims XRP Rally Could Trigger a Significant Uptrend