Infobox Website
name = Yahoo! GeoCities
favicon =

caption =
url = []
commercial = Yes
type = Web hosting
registration = Yes
owner = Yahoo! Inc.
author = David Bohnett and John Rezner
launch date =
current status = Active
revenue =

Yahoo! GeoCities is a webhosting service founded by David Bohnett and John Rezner in late 1994 as Beverly Hills Internet (BHI). [ [ Beverly Hills Internet, builder of interactive cyber cities, launches 4 more virtual communities linked to real places; SiliconValley, CapitolHill, Paris and Tokyo offer free ... ] ]

In its original form, site users selected a "city" in which to place their webpages. The "cities" were named after real cities or regions according to their content — for example, computer-related sites were placed in "SiliconValley" and those dealing with entertainment were assigned to "Hollywood" — hence the name of the site; however, this feature has since been abandoned.


GeoCities began as BHI, which stood for "Beverly Hills Internet", a small Web hosting and development company in Southern California. The company also created their own Web directory, organized thematically in six "neighborhoods" such as "SiliconValley" (for technology) and "SunsetStrip" (for nightlife and music). In mid-1995, the company decided to offer users (thereafter known as "Homesteaders") the ability to develop free home pages within those neighborhoods. Chat, bulletin boards, and other elements of "community" were added soon after, helping foster rapid growth. By December of 1995, the company, which now had a total of 14 neighborhoods, was signing up thousands of Homesteaders a day and getting over six million monthly page views. The company decided to focus on building membership and community, and on December 15, 1995, BHI became known as GeoCities after having also been called Geopages.

Over time, many companies, including Yahoo!, invested extensively in GeoCities and, with the introduction of paid premium services, the site continued to grow. In May of 1997, GeoCities introduced advertisements on its pages. Despite negative reaction from users, GeoCities continued to grow. By June 1997, GeoCities was the fifth most popular site on the Web, and by October of that year the company had signed up its one-millionth Homesteader.

In June of 1998, in an effort to increase brand awareness, GeoCities introduced a watermark to user webpages. The watermark, much like a television bug, was a transparent floating GIF which used javascript to stay on the bottom right side of the browser screen. Many users felt the watermark interfered with the design of their webpage and threatened to move their webpages elsewhere. The watermark also had cross-browser issues and clashed with the markup of some pages. GeoCities said in a press release that the company had received upbeat feedback regarding the watermark. [cite news|url=|date=1998-06-28|title=GeoCitizens fume over watermark|first=Jim|last=Hu|publisher=CNet]

In August of 1998, the company went public, listing on the NASDAQ exchange with the code GCTY. The IPO price was $17, rising rapidly after launch to a peak of over $100. However, in January 1999, near the peak of the dot com bubble, it was purchased by Yahoo! for $3.57 billion with Yahoo! taking control on May 28. [cite news|url=|date=1999-01-28|title=Yahoo! buys GeoCities|] [cite news|url=|date=1999-01-29|title=Yahoo! moves in on GeoCities|first=Chris|last=Nuttall|publisher=BBC News]

Yahoo!'s acquisition of GeoCities proved extremely unpopular and users soon began to leave en masse in protest at the new Terms of Service put out by Yahoo! for GeoCities.Fact|date=July 2007 The terms stated that the company owned all rights and content, including media such as pictures. Yahoo! quickly reversed its decision.Fact|date=July 2007 In July 1999, Yahoo! eliminated neighborhoods and street addresses from homesteader URLs. GeoCities never enforced neighborhood specific content, for example a "Hollywood" homesteader could be nothing but a college student's home page which would be more appropriate for another neighborhood. The neighborhoods were replaced by "vanity" URLs consisting of Soon after a lawsuit was filed against Yahoo! by its volunteer group of community managers, GeoCities' volunteer program (Community Leaders) was terminated.

In 2001, amidst speculation by analysts that GeoCities was not yet profitable (it having declared an $8 million loss for the final quarter of 1998), Yahoo! introduced a for-fee premium hosting service at GeoCities [cite news|url=|date=2001-08-28|title=A Community That Stays Together, Pays Together|first=Betsy|last=Schiffman|publisher=Forbes] and crippled the accesibility of free and low-price hosting accounts by limiting their monthly bandwith (called "data transfer" by GeoCities) for webpage visitors; since then the monthly bandwith limit for free accounts is 4 GB, later the paid accounts were unified in the Yahoo! Web Hosting account and currently have no bandwith limits.

The limiting of bandwidth for free accounts made less popular the GeoCities hosting service as well as the hosted pages.

While GeoCities proved a popular site for newcomers to web design in the late 1990s due to its free service, the site has gradually become obsolete with the ever-decreasing cost of hosting a personal website. Most GeoCities sites that were popular in the late 1990s are no longer active and have long since been abandoned for other options.Fact|date=April 2008

Nevertheless, the domain "" attracted at least 177 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study. [ [ GeoCities attracts almost 180m visitors online yearly] ]

On 1st October 2008 Geocities removed old sites from their servers thereby losing countless website builders all of their sites. [;_ylt=AvNNOr8wFk4augLYDOvWTXlJBgx.;_ylv=3?qid=20081001023017AA7nYTv]


In 1999, a complaint was instituted against GeoCities stating that the corporation violated the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act under 14 USC § 45, which states in relevant part, “Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are hereby declared unlawful.” The FTC found that GeoCities was engaged in deceptive acts and practices in contravention to their stated privacy act. Subsequently, a consent order was entered into which prohibits GeoCities from misrepresenting the purpose for which it collects and/or uses personal identifying information from consumers. A copy of the complaint and order can be found at 127 F.T.C. 94.

The litigation came about in this way: GeoCities provided free home pages and e-mail address to children and adults who provided personally identifying and demographic information when they register for the website. At the time of the complaint, GeoCities had more than 1.8 million members who were "homesteaders". GeoCities created opportunities for third party advertisers to promote products in a targeted manner to its 1.8 million users by using personally identifiable information obtained in the registration process. These acts and practices affected "commerce" as defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission.

The problem GeoCities faced was that it placed a privacy statement on its New Member Application Form and on its website promising that it would never give personally identifying information to anyone without the user's permission. GeoCities sold personal information to third parties who used the information for purposes other than those for which members gave permission.

It was ordered that GeoCities would not make any misrepresentation, in any manner about its collection or use of personal identifying information, including what information will be disclosed to third parties. GeoCities was not allowed to collect personal identifying information from any child if GeoCities had actual knowledge that the child did not have his or her parent's permission to provide the information.

ee also



External links

* [ Yahoo! GeoCities]
* [ Yahoo! GeoCities Germany]
* [ Yahoo! Canada GeoCities]
* [ A list of all the GeoCities Neighborhoods and Suburbs]
* [ Yahoo! Relents on GeoCities Terms of Service - CNET NEWS]

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