Yahoo on Monday is killing off its GeoCities Web hosting service, once one of the most popular sites on the Web.
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The company first warned customers in April that it would be shutting down the service. Yahoo now provides an FAQ that details how users can salvage the Web sites they’ve created using the service.
Here’s Yahoo’s explanation for nixing the site:
We have enjoyed hosting web sites created by Yahoo! users all over the world, and we’re proud of the community you’ve built. However, we have decided to focus on helping our customers explore and build relationships online in other ways. Beginning on October 26, 2009, you will no longer be able to use GeoCities to maintain a free presence online—but we’re excited about the other services we have designed to help you connect with friends and family and share your activities and interests.
In other words, Yahoo is looking for customers to pay up, either via Yahoo or someone else. At the very least, Yahoo recommends that customers who don’t want to lose their data download pages and images to their computers.
Yahoo will not be archiving web sites, though the nonprofit Internet Archive is copying many of them, according to Yahoo.
Like other free Web hosting sites, GeoCities proved popular not just among legitimate users, but among spammers and malware distributors.
Yahoo acquired GeoCities in 1999 for $3.57 billion in stock, but the deal didn’t go well, as new terms of service placed on users sent many of them scurrying.
GeoCities formed in the mid-1990s and went public in 1998. The company was unique among Web hosting sites in that users initially designated their sites as belonging to a city, such as Hollywood, to help viewers navigate among them. Some have called GeoCities a sort of precursor to today’s social networks like Facebook and MySpace.