Veteran Outrage readers know that we’re the home of bad news — in fact, we feature the worst news we can find.

But on very rare occasions, such as today, we have some good news: The Power of Outrage can change things.

We’re all getting tired of being bombarded with junk email from low-life marketing firms like Cyber Promotions. Our snail mail boxes are filled with more solicitations. You can’t sit down to dinner without the phone ringing from a telemarketer. Some losers will stoop to anything to make a buck. It’s time to assert our right to privacy.

Thousands of AOL users did just that when the online giant revealed plans to sell the names and phone numbers of their 8.5 million subscribers to telemarketing firms like CUC International and Tel-Save Holdings. AOL received protests from their subscribers, Internet advocacy groups, and even the White House.

Perhaps the most effective protest came from the stock market. News of the plan was greeted with a down-draft in AOL’s share price of four percent on a day that the rest of the market was rising to new highs. Although the sale of names and numbers was worth around $50 million to AOL, Wall Street immediately perceived the deal as a loser.

As a result of the outrage, AOL reversed plans and canceled the deal. Their stock then partially recovered, but still closed down $1.75, or 2.6 percent.

Although AOL has canceled plans to sell the names to outside firms, they are still reserving the right to use subscribers’ phone numbers for their own marketing efforts. Maybe it’s time for a little more outrage.

(Source: Chicago Tribune.)

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