AOL reconfigured its Web-based e-mail services available at AIM.com and AOL.com to disable images by default.

The change, which wasn't announced in advance to e-mail marketers and other bulk senders, comes as part of an interface redesign for the Web mail service. AOL's hosted mail service joins major e-mail clients like Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail and Outlook, which began screening images some time ago.

AOL's desktop client already disabled images in e-mail received from unknown senders, a spokesperson said. "AOL originally introduced this feature in 2004 to fight spam, and it has since become a standard practice in the industry, utlized by several e-mail providers," she said.

Images can be enabled in AOL.com and AIM.com mail by a number of means. They will appear if a sender is included on AOL's Enhanced Whitelist, if an e-mail user adds the sender to her address book, or if a user manually changes the default images setting to "on."

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