Published on January 7th, 2014 | by Joanna Connell



A web portal that offers a variety of services and content to its users, who are mainly based in the United States.  It provides web email, a chat client, news and social media integration.  AOL offers free and paid subscription plans and counts around 3 million members in its online community.

Signing up for an account

To sign up for an AOL account, you will have to fill in a lengthy registration form that requires your email address and various other personal details.  AOL requires you to choose a username and pick a strong password that is between 6 and 16 characters long.  When typing your password, there is a helpful indicator that gives you a measure of the relative strength of your password.  The service automatically screens for and blocks common words and names in passwords.

When creating an AOL account, you will also have to choose a security question which has to be answered each time you log in to your account.  This measure provides an additional layer of security that protects your account information.

Security features on AOL

AOL offers users some basic security features to help make the data on their accounts more secure.  AOL uses an encrypted HTTPS connection whenever sensitive data is being exchanged between the user and the company’s servers.  Through their settings page, users can edit their passwords and configure their security question.  There is also the possibility to set parental controls on your AOL account.

Changing your security settings

To edit your password on AOL, login at password.aol.com and answer your security question on the page that loads.  Under the ‘Change Password’ area, re-enter your old password and then type in your new one twice.  To confirm the change, click ‘Save’ to start using your new password.

To change your security question, login to your account on myaccount.aol.com and sign in using your username and password.  Answer your current security question and click on ‘Continue’.  Under the ‘Username Options’, click ‘Change Account Security Question’.  Select your username from the dropdown list and then choose one of the preset security questions. You will have to type in the answer to the question you have chosen twice before clicking ‘Save’ and confirming the change.

Personal data collection

AOL collects personal data from its users when they are registering, authenticating, making purchases, or interacting with AOL.  This data helps the company to customise and improve its service.  AOL never shares the data it collects with other companies for commercial reasons, and it will always ask the user for his or her consent to receive promotional material from other brands that may be of interest.  Users can easily opt-out from any communication through their settings page.

Cancelling your AOL account

To cancel your AOL account, sign in to your account and select ‘Change My AOL Plan’.  Under your current subscription plan or at the bottom of the page, click on ‘Cancel Plan’.  A confirmation page will load, asking you to choose a reason for cancelling your account before pressing the ‘Cancel AOL’ button.

Safety record

There have been no major reports of security concerns on AOL accounts recently, although there have been a few claims by users that they have been hacked.  Users are encouraged by AOL to use strong passwords which they change regularly to ensure their data stays safe online.  The AOL help centre offers various tips on how to pick a safe password.

Connecting third parties to AOL

You can connect a wide variety of third party services and apps to add to your AOL account. The information shared on these services is governed by their own privacy policies and users are recommended to review these policies and check their privacy settings to make sure they are aware of the data that is being shared.  Third party authorisation can be managed from your settings page.

Tracking your shared information

Although you can control the privacy settings of the content that appears on your online profile, AOL does not let its users track down how their personal information is used.

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