A web hosting service started in 1994 by David Bohnett and John Rezner, and it was the third most visited website on the world wide web. Earlier named Beverly Hills Internet (BHI), a small Web hosting and development company in Southern California, later renamed GeoCities. It allowed registered users called ‘Homesteaders’ to create and publish home pages and e-mail addresses, chat, bulletin boards, and community elements with neighborhoods they wanted to belong to with 2 M.B. of space provided. The neighborhood was part of the member’s Web address along with a sequentially assigned “street address” number to make the URL unique (for example, “www.geocities.com/RodeoDrive/number”).
According to their content, the users select cities or regions to list hyperlinks to their web pages like computer-related were placed in ‘SiliconValley, and entertainment placed with ‘Hollywood.’ GeoCities included GeoCities Marketplace, a commercial website, which sold GeoCities-branded merchandise.
The users need to provide personally-identifying and demographic information when they register for the website. In the privacy statement on its New Member Application Form, the website promises not to give anyone personally-identifying information without the user’s permission. The visitors can browse user-created websites by their theme or interest. They enjoyed the user-created websites and built a profound community.
In 1999, FTC received a complaint against GeoCities that it violated provisions of (the Federal Trade Commission Act, precisely 15 USC & 45. The act states, “Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are hereby declared unlawful.” The agency found GeoCities engaged in deceptive acts and practices in contravention of their stated privacy act. The website sold personal information to third parties who used the information for purposes other than those for which members gave permission. The website illegally permitted third-party advertisers to promote products targeted to GeoCities’ 1.8 million users by using personally identifiable information obtained in the registration process. Subsequently, a consent order was entered into, which prohibits GeoCities from misrepresenting the purpose for which it collects uses personal identifying information from consumers.
On January 28, 1999. Yahoo Inc. acquired the GeoCities hosting service for $3.57 billion in stock and abandoned this practice to favor Yahoo member names in the URLs.
In July 1999, Yahoo! switched from the neighborhood and street addresses Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) for homesteaders to “vanity” URLs through members’ registration names Yahoo! (“www.geocities.com/membername”). This service was offered previously only as a premium.
Later in October 2009, the United States GeoCities services came to an end. Yahoo terminated the most user-written website with at least 38 million pages – The vintage personal web hosting site got farewell on October 26, 2009. Yahoo asked and encouraged users to download content to computers if they want to rebuild them on another site, as they won’t be archiving user pages. Yahoo urged users to try the company’s pay Web-hosting service. The company introduced a for-fee premium hosting service at GeoCities. It reduced the accessibility of free and low-price hosting accounts by limiting their data transfer rate for Web page visitors.
By 2008, the domain geocities.com attracted at least 177 million visitors annually and had 18.9 million unique visitors from the U.S. during March 2006. Later in March 2008, it decreased to 15.1 million unique U.S visitors and in March 2009 had 11.5 million unique visitors.
GeoCities Joined a long list of other services, including Yahoo! 360, My Web, Yahoo! Briefcase Farechase, LAUNCHcast, My Web, Audio Search, Pets, Photos, Live, Kickstart, etc. Web messenger and teachers prioritize their products and services to deliver the best products to consumers. The visitors looking for GeoCities won’t find flashing banner ads, questionable color schemes, guest books, streaming HTML marquee tags, and omnipresent “Under Construction” signs. The site touched the hearts of millions of users that “RIP GeoCities” was a trending topic on Twitter. The website where millions first tried their hands at coding and designing before Yahoo scrubbed it.