Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

September 23rd, 2003

Cheap stunt

I’m sure that the news about MSN shutting down chat rooms will be all over the web by now, but I couldn’t let it pass without comment. MSN know that chat rooms will continue from other service providers and on other platforms (for example IRC), so although they are saying this is being done in the interests of safety, it’s very hard to see how this will help.

Taking away such a service gets them some publicity, which with the ongoing commercialisation of their on-line services will no doubt come in handy. What’s irritating is that the BBC doesn’t see fit to point this out, and also manages to be misleading:

The only chat service available to MSN users in the UK will be the free instant messaging service, MSN Messenger, which is not so open and gives people more control over who they talk to.

MSN users can still access a multitude of different chat forums, just not using MSN client software. I suspect the real reason that they are closing them down in this fashion is to try and monetise the medium, and while there are free forums on the same service that will be hard to do.

Obviously MSN shutting down a previously free service is news worthy, but to buy into the safety spin is very disappointing. I’m sure someone inside MSN is very happy with the lead-in paragraph that the BBC posted:

Microsoft’s Internet service MSN has taken a major step in net safety which could sound the death knell for unsupervised chatrooms.

Simply put it won’t, and as such this is not a major step in net safety at all.

Comments are closed.

Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

Email: colin at