Instant Messaging is real-time synchronous chat among two or more people over the Internet. Fans use it for many purposes, including:
- Squee-ing together at a broadcast or awards show
- Describing character actions or thoughts in a Role-Playing Game
- Writing collaboration, either directly via IM or using the messaging as a Meta channel
- Meeting for fan projects (such as this wiki)
- General fannish dialog or group chat
One of the first large purveyors of an instant messaging service/client was AOL (America Online); when it first became popular, instant messaging was widely referred to by the AOL-related acronym, AIM.