On December 1, AOL began plugging their "Neighborhood Watch" feature, saying it "gives you the tools and tips you need to ensure a safe and fun online experience for you and your family." But its real purpose may be to earn AOL money. A prominent component of the neighborhood watch area is its tip to "Explore our online shopping and banking area."

The area also advises users to reviews AOL's Terms of Service -- but since July 25 the latest changes have been pulled "for review". (They're now entering their fifth month of "review".)

But perhaps the worst sign of all occurred when users actually clicked on the icon to review AOL's neighborhood watch area. "A request to the host has taken longer than expected" AOL announced, after a long wait. "If the problem continues, please use keyword SYSTEM RESPONSE to report the problem."

The safety features won't become available until 1998 -- but even the descriptions were unavailable at a low-traffic period (3 a.m. EST.)