AOL forces friends on AIM customers (C|Net)

By Greg Sandoval

Users of instant messaging services have traditionally been allowed to act as sole gatekeeper of their buddy lists. But that may be changing, as American Online inserted two robotic buddies into AIM lists Thursday.

AOL informed AIM customers that it had added a “ShoppingBuddy” and another bot for Moviefone to buddy lists overnight. The AIM bots are automated software programs that will send preprogrammed responses to questions. Users can send an instant message to their new ShoppingBuddy for gift ideas and ask Moviefone about show times.

That the services may be helpful wasn’t enough to assuage some AIM fans. Blogs and message boards were filled with complaints from users who called the move an “intrusion” and “uncool.”