America Online (AOL) is the latest corporation to run a feature story on their web service that features outlandish stories about litigation and lawsuits in the United States. Unfortunately, the inaccuracies in this story are an appalling insult to responsible journalism. The facts of the “cases” are changed significantly or made up entirely.
One only has to step back and take a look at the true facts and see why AOL has such an interest in promoting fiction and propaganda in an attempt to discredit the American justice system by diverting attention from their systematic violations of the law. AOL’s problems with breaking the law are becoming legendary. Below are just a few examples of their recent failures:
*Just this week AOL agreed to pay $246 million to compensate the University of California for losses to their pension and endowment funds after the company’s stock prices plunged in 2001-2002. The University alleged that AOL inflated it stock price prior to its merger with Time-Warner by misrepresenting its sales, revenues and subscriber numbers.
*On February 26, 2007, Time Warner reached agreements to pay $405 million to settle lawsuits related to past accounting problems at AOL.
*On February 7, 2007, AOL reached a $105 million settlement with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System that claimed that AOL executives and bankers had artificially boosted the value of its stocks prior to buying Time Warner.
*In December, 2006, AOL settled a securities fraud case for $50 million with the state of Alaska.
*In September, 2006, AOL members joined together in a class action suing AOL for violating their privacy by posting their search queries online. AOL made public the search queries of over 600,000 members.
*In January, 2006, AOL settled a class action for $25 million after the company was accused of wrongfully billing its customers.
*In 2005, Time Warner settled a $2.4 billion securities fraud lawsuit stemming from their misstatement of advertising revenue on the eve of its merger with AOL.
*In 2004, AOL settled two class actions that claimed it had continued to bill plaintiffs after their subscriptions were cancelled.