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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Protesters object to Yahoo porn purge
Yahoo petition
Protesters act to keep sex chat rooms open
By BBC News Online's North America Business Reporter, David Schepp

Popular web portal Yahoo has been besieged with angry protests by users demanding the US-based internet service keep its sexually explicit chat rooms and clubs.

Thousands of users have signed a petition demanding the company continue to offer the forums, according to a report in Wednesday's edition of The New York Times.

In one swift action, Yahoo has completely removed the ENTIRE Adult section from Yahoo Clubs and Yahoo Groups!

Yahoo protesters
Protesters have accused the site of a wide-spread purge, the New York Times said, although company officials denied such an action, saying it was still evaluating what steps it will take in reducing the amount of pornography.

Opponents of the "pornography purge" have charged that it is increasingly difficult for users to find chat rooms and clubs that are sexually explicit in nature.

"In one swift action, Yahoo has completely removed the ENTIRE Adult section from Yahoo Clubs and Yahoo Groups!" says a web site chronicling the controversy. "This means eliminating well over 100,000 of its most active and largest clubs!"

Since Yahoo will no longer accept adult-oriented advertising, opponents of the policy say, it will no longer be able to fund sexually explicit clubs and chat rooms, which would lead to their demise.

Last month, Yahoo announced it intends to remove all sexually explicit material from its shopping and auction channels and will reject requests for related advertising.

Protests on top of protests

Yahoo's April decision was a swift response to demands by those who are opposed to the availability of adult-oriented materials on the internet.

The company began offering the materials in the hopes of broadening its appeal and thus its profits. Instead it faced a torrent of criticism from conservative groups that fear minors would have access to X-rated material.

Ever watchful of its bottom line and anxious not to offend users, Yahoo pledged to remove all pornography from portions of its site.

According to Wednesday's New York Times article, Yahoo has come under increasing pressure from conservative religious groups and received 100,000 messages, complaining about the availability of such materials.

For their part, company officials have said that pornography is not a mainstay for the company's bottom line, adding that they do not expect the elimination of pornography to result in a sharp drop in profits.

"It was an infinitesimal portion of our revenues," Yahoo spokeswoman Nicki Dugan has said.

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