How about a TV sweeps piece that links you to profiting from the sexual exploitation of children?

That happened to Yahoo!, which until recently allowed just about anyone to create a chat group. Until recently, when the company took the heat for allowing groups like:

  • 9-17-Year-Olds Wantin’ Sex
  • Younger Girls 4 Older Guys
  • Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys
  • Girls 13 And Up For Much Older Man
  • Girls 8 to 13 Watch Boys (In A Particular Sex Act)


Not only are the offending chatrooms down — so are all user-created chat areas, along with the ability to create new ones. Yahoo!‘s spokesperson said they were closed for improvements and to ensure compliance with Yahoo!‘s terms of service. That spokesperson did not mention anything about the $10,000,000 suit filed against the portal, which profited on the sites by selling ads. Users had to click through spots for Pepsi, T-Mobile, State Farm, Georgia-Pacific and others just to get to the chatrooms in question.

The real sting here, aside from the additional bad press the lawsuit will slowly bring, is that Yahoo! had been handed a rather large petition last year asking for the rooms to be shut down. The $10-million suit only represents a fraction of the $205-million Yahoo! made on advertising, but does not count the loss of many key advertisers who bailed to dissociate themselves.

This is why PR people need to be invited to the big table. Not to make the big decisions, but to advise the powers-that-be of the consequences of their actions (and inactions.)