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The Internet The Almighty Buck

Yahoo! Closes User Created Chat Rooms 306

karvind writes "Chatmag News reports that Yahoo! has disabled all the User-created Chat rooms. According to Yahoo's chat log page:'The ability to publish user-created chat rooms in the public Yahoo! Chat directory is currently unavailable. We are working on improvements to this service to enhance the user experience and compliance with our Terms of Service'. This may be true but Yahoo! is also facing a $10 million lawsuit that accuses it of cashing in on some disturbing chat rooms. The companies are paying huge fees for their ads to appear on Yahoo!. But many are now canceling those ads because of the report."
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Yahoo! Closes User Created Chat Rooms

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  • by ErikTheRed ( 162431 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @02:01AM (#12855003) Homepage
    On the Internet? Really?

    I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!
    • Sad unforunately, had a friend who ran a Linux chatroom and got lots of newbs who got help there. Not possible anymore, I guess he'll have to move his room to "Single Again!"

      Yep. Unfortunately, all the "CLIKC HERE TO SEE ME NUDE ON MY CAM HTTP://MEGABUCKS.COM" or "CLICK HERE TO SEE MY PRETEEN DAUGHTER NUDE HTTP://PORN.COM" will make it impossible for users to get help.

      Closing private rooms for policy compliance? What about all the spam and stuff in pub rooms?
  • Big Whoop! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Adrilla ( 830520 ) *
    I never thought of Yahoo as the hot chat room spot. No matter how many Yahoo chats or Aol or whatever, the chat place to be will always be IRC, which they'll never shut down and probably always have the most freedom in terms of channels available and content within.
    • I dont think there even is a "hot chatroom spot". Frankly, Yahoo chat and AOL chat etc are just full of 12 year olds and 52 year olds all going "OMG LAWLZ WAHT DO YUO LOOUK LIEK??!"
      • by Adrilla ( 830520 ) *
        Honestly, years ago before AOL went to the unlimited hours plan, the chat rooms on AOL used to be a more fun, more intelligent space, but I believe that's because mostly it was adults who were paying $2.95/hr to be there. So they made it more worth their while thus making it better for everyone else there. But as soon as they went to that free for all, the floodgates were opened wide with the kids and the "a/s/l" "if yoor a gurl and wanna have hot sex press 11111". Ah, the good old days....wait, did I just
    • Re:Big Whoop! (Score:2, Insightful)

      But you're not a child or young teen. For the most part, kids live on Yahoo and AOL chat rooms and IM. I think the big whoop here is the fact that fucktards are using them to prey on kids.
      • Re:Big Whoop! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dabadab ( 126782 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @02:57AM (#12855155)
        And could you please enlighten me as to what is exactly the chance that a 12 year old girl would enter a chatroom named "Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys"?

        I tell you, it's nothing more than hysteria at its best.
        • Re:Big Whoop! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tverbeek ( 457094 )
          Chat rooms with names like "Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys" are going to be populated entirely by middle-aged men indulging in nothing more than fantasy. (I'd call it "consensual", but there's probably some self-delusion involved, so maybe not.) Would anyone in their right mind look at a chatroom named "Unwilling Sex Slaves" and raise the alarm that abduction, rape, and slavery are occurring? Um.... no.

          Yes, there are people preying on children via the internet. But here's a clue: the ones who succeed

      • by eric76 ( 679787 )
        Doesn't Yahoo filter the chatrooms based on age?

        I've never visited one. If I had known, I still wouldn't have bothered with them. I have joined several of Yahoo's mailing lists on groups.yahoo.com.

        When I signed up for the yahoo account, I put my age down as 2 years old.

        The result is that I haven't seen any of the porn lists I've heard about.

        They must think I'm about 6 or 7 by now.
      • Re:Big Whoop! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
        I think the big whoop here is the fact that fucktards are using them to prey on kids.

        Maybe. I just find it hard to imagine that the citd chatroom "Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys" actually has any real women, let alone girls, in it, aside from perhaps (older) hookers and female FBI agents.

        • Maybe. I just find it hard to imagine that the citd chatroom "Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys" actually has any real women, let alone girls, in it, aside from perhaps (older) hookers and female FBI agents.

          Internet chat rooms: Where the men are men, the women are men and the 14 year girls are FBI agents.

    • Re:Big Whoop! (Score:2, Interesting)

      I never thought of Yahoo as the hot chat room spot. No matter how many Yahoo chats or Aol or whatever, the chat place to be will always be IRC

      Naw, there are probably far more IM Chat users than IRC users these days. IRC is very complicated to use for a newbie compared to Yahoo Messenger or AIM. I know my mother uses Yahoo Chat for the voice messaging functionality in the chat rooms.. it's unfortunately one of the reasons I couldn't switch her to a Mac since the Yahoo for Macs supports neither voice cha

      • The Yahoo! created chat rooms are still open, it was only the user created rooms that were closed. Have your mother log in as usual, and join one of the Yahoo! rooms. If her friends are on her buddy list, she can still message them individually, and have them join a particular Yahoo operated chat room.
  • Blah, there's always IRC or AIM chat if you still need chat rooms. Otherwise they're a waste of time. *shrug, wonders why he should be concerned*
  • Glad to hear it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PhreakinPenguin ( 454482 ) * on Sunday June 19, 2005 @02:04AM (#12855016) Homepage Journal
    I know the freedom of speech zealots will cry wolf over this but I'm very glad to see this happen. Although the room names don't imply that something illicit is going on, it would be nice if there was a way to keep kids chat rooms for kids and adult chat rooms for adults. Yahoo has been VERY lax about this in the past and it's good to see them make an effort. Even if it's being forced by a lawsuit.
    • Re:Glad to hear it (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dagr8tim ( 866860 )
      Gee...can you hear me way back there in the 1950's? Why is it yahoo's responsibility to keep children out of adult rooms (I'm talking adult rooms in general, not kiddie porn rooms). Where are the parents? Why are they letting their children go online, unsupervised? I'm sick and tired of people wanting the government or buisness to protect them from the big bad evil world that's out there. PS. this was more a random rant, than anything personally directed at you.
    • Re:Glad to hear it (Score:5, Informative)

      by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @02:28AM (#12855087)
      Dude, did you read the article (no), the news report covered chat rooms with the following titles:
      • 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)
      • Re:Glad to hear it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hugesmile ( 587771 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @06:11AM (#12855559)
        Grandparent said: Although the room names don't imply that something illicit is going on

        I agree. A room title is nothing. It is NOT an implication that there's something evil going on. It's an "ad" to get you interested in coming in the room.

        The examples in the article could be reworded, and NOT sound evil...
        Change "9-17-Year-Olds Wantin' Sex" to "9 normal 17 year olds"
        Change "Younger Girls 4 Older Guys" to "Younger Girls 4 Bush or Kerry" (both of whom were older guys)
        Change "Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys" to "Girls 13 and under who respect their fathers"
        Change "Girls 13 And Up For Much Older Man" to "Girls 13 and up researching prehistoric man"
        Change "Girls 8 to 13 Watch Boys (In A Particular Sex Act)" to "8 Girls to 13 Boys with Watches"

        It's a friggin ROOM NAME, not an admission of some act! Read it any way you want!

        An example to prove my point: (I hate to make this political...) if you saw a chat room called "We Love War", and you "went into" the room to a) observe the conversation, or b) refute nonsense, does that make you a War Lover?

        I bet the vast majority of the rooms in question were set up by law enforcement people anyway! Should we be investigating our police forces?

    • It seems what really got Yahoo's attention was when the sponsors pointed out that this was in direct violation of the Ad contracts that they had signed with Yahoo and until Yahoo fixes is they are going to loose a lot of money.

      Speeking as the parent of 2 pre-teen girls I am very happy to see these kind of chatrooms gone. (And in case anyone asks we don't let the girls on the net without parental oversight)
    • Re:Glad to hear it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sustik ( 90111 )
      My only problem is that some TX congressman already talking about new legislation that is needed. Why? It seems the current system worked:

      1. disturbing (but not yet proven illegal actually) practice exposed by media,
      2. business reacted by pulling support,
      3. Yahoo shut down service.

      All seems to be ok. Please someone remind that congressman that there are real problems in his state which need immediate attention (like half of the children are without health insurance*) and work on something USEFUL.

      Matya
      • I think it just means all children are entitled to not be deliberately killed.
        • Yeah, it's too expensive to save the lives of everyone, so the pro-lifers stick to saving the lives of unwanted children and the extreme pro-lifers and anti-eugenics work hard to save the lives of babies so deformed they wouldn't live outside the womb anyway. Of course, they refuse to foot the bill when the baby pops out and then dies after tens of thousands of dollars in futile medical care, because that's actually too expensive too.
      • A George Carlin quote:"Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers"
        If you fear that you don't have health insurance, aren't you more likely to then join the Army(if/when) you grow up?
      • Re:Glad to hear it (Score:3, Insightful)

        by serutan ( 259622 )
        Are not most of his constituents pro-life, actually? I thought that means that all life (all children) should be entitled to the protection of their health/life on their own right

        "Pro-life" is just a PR term for "anti-abortion." It doesn't mean these people are "pro" anything. Most of the people I know who are rabidly against abortion are just as rabidly against doing anything for the single mother. They want her to suffer for her own sins. If you bring up the subject of the child being an innocent victim
    • Although the room names don't imply that something illicit is going on

      From TFA:
      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)

      In what way do the room names not imply something illicit is going on? Or do you think that pedos grooming children for sex is acceptable? Are the freedom of speech zealots crying wolf when old men are stopped from trying to have sex with young chi
  • Needs moderated (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RickPartin ( 892479 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @02:05AM (#12855017) Homepage
    Well what did they think was going to happen? Opening up chat rooms to the public with I'm assuming very little moderation is just asking for trouble. The article says people asked to become moderators but Yahoo never responded.

    I've never used Yahoo chat before. Do they have very many non user created rooms? Sounds like they just destroyed their chat service.
    • I understand that there are legal ramifications. Are these moderators Yahoo employees, owed pay, etc... possibly to sue down the line for back pay?
    • Well, on IRC you can moderate your own chat room. The downside is someone else can take over your chat room while your computers are down, unless you got allies.

      Moderating like this isn't the problem, it is creating own chat rooms at all. I suppose Yahoo! will have to require an identification of all users who open up rooms if they want to stop that. This leads to other unpleasantness, like someone getting the idea that you are responsible for what people talk in the chat rooms you opened, even if you are
    • The article says people asked to become moderators but Yahoo never responded.

      I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd be a little wary of someone who asked to be a mod in a "young girls for older guys" chatroom...
    • Yahoo had tons, and GAIM also allowed entry into them. Some with names like "PARENT INCEST DILDO SEX" under the Adult > Fetish > Alternative > User Created categories and "PRETEEN NUDE PIC TRADES". All of them completely unmoderated and always completely full (40 users per room). I only checked it out because I had recently upgraded GAIM and saw the chatroom feature light up when I applied my Yahoo account. Needless to say, it was an eye opener...
  • OH NO!!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by unknown_goth ( 773919 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @02:07AM (#12855026)
    Now where will all the 14 year old blonde lesbian goth chicks with piercings, and a fetish for cybering do once they clock off from work and head home to the wife and kids... .... so sad. . . soo truely sad it is....
  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @02:10AM (#12855035)
    They need to monitor their kid. Especially chatrooms.

    Yahoo lets any A-hole create any stupid chatroom.

    The only problem with Yahoo is that they don't have one single customer service email address. If they do they sure as hole don't listen NOR DO THEY EVER REPLY WITH A HUMAN REPLY EMAIL. So they could give a fuck if Al-queda had a chat room on there.
  • How many (total) channels were actively run on Yahoo Chat--basically, how hidden were these channels in the first place? Did Yahoo make an effort to police their chat channels, or were they neglected entirely (and thus encouraged to degrade to the point they were at)? Is Yahoo even liable for the actions of other people? Why is congress discussing MORE LAWS when obviously they're being sued so they already (may have) violated existing ones?

    I seem to recall similar channels all over the fricking place when
  • Great, now all the freaks and pedophiles and psycho freaks will be roaming the normal people channels.

    At least when they were off in the freak places the law knew where to look for them.

    Aim gun at foot, pull trigger.
    • Nah, actually these rooms are getting closed, because the undercover law officers wasted tremendous time and effort fishing for pedophiles in it, for no good. Thing is there IS a line between reality and fiction, and in fiction people will do countless things, including butchering each other in games. But when it comes to reality, there is a little inner voice that goes off, that makes people care about each other. I wonder how many pedophiles they set up who actually treated their bait very very decently
  • See kids, this is why you shouldn't use Yahoo, and discover IRC instead.

    All this control over your speech .. its not good for you, you know.
  • Chat rooms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ATAMAH ( 578546 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @02:27AM (#12855082)
    There are disturbing chat rooms in any chat medium that supports "rooms" as such. However, if my memory serves me right, there used to be a part in MOTD on IRC servers that said something along the lines of "IRC is an unmoderated medium"... If Yahoo is not a moderated place either - who is a judge of what is shocking and what is not? Not that i am advocating sick stuff, and not that i don't see how they (Yahoo) can give in to litigative pressure.. but still?
    • "who is a judge of what is shocking and what is not?"

      Their advertisers, which is where they gain a good portion of their income from. It's all well and good that they can technically perhaps be on the correct side of the law, but when it comes to standing your ground or losing your income a public company is going to cave.
  • how many times (Score:2, Insightful)

    by berlamont ( 866455 )
    How many times did they say CHILD SEX ROOMS in that report. I love how they act like the advertisments were purposely placed on those particular chat rooms.
  • Maybe they can also get rid of the bots plaguing Mahjongg Solitare and other stuff on games.yahoo.com

    Well...it was a dream.
  • This is why.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sinner0423 ( 687266 ) <sinner0423 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday June 19, 2005 @03:06AM (#12855174)
    All Yahoo chat rooms :

    joeuser: where are the ladies
    joeuser2: HI R U FEM?
    adbot: jargonlkjdsfhgnbfoo
    adbot2: 25/f/perfect nudexxxpics.sex.ws click here for my pics!

    Followed by the hammering of your desktop full of randomly generated adult website advertisments and emails. Things have gotten so bad with the bots that people are relying on 3rd party programs to block the sheer amount of crap that an average yahoo user receives every day.

    I'd honestly say a good 30-40% of the "users" in the rooms are adult website advertisement bots. I've spent a few minutes on this comment and I already received at least a dozen bogus IM's / ads from them. The news about companies not wanting to deal with yahoo's obvious chat room problems doesn't suprise me in the least, I say good riddance.
  • Rape Club (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nexu56 ( 566998 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:15AM (#12855320) Homepage

    Not surprising at all...

    Microsoft's media portal in australia, "ninemsn" (think msnbc) recently had to explain how it failed to notice its members had set up a "Rape Club" chatroom devoted to discussions a photos of, er, rape.

    I just tried to track down a link through google news. [google.com.au]

    Which (at the moment) leads to a news article on ninemsn (!) Amusingly, follow the link and receive:

    "The article you have requested does not exist"

    Tinfoil hats ahoy! Instead, try this link [news.com.au] to read about the whole sordid affair:

  • by johansalk ( 818687 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @04:34AM (#12855367)

    "Yes, more legislation is required. The law has not kept up with this type of criminal activity," U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, told the Houston television station KPRC." With a nod from Gitmo Gonzales ""Short of changes in the law in Congress, we may be limited about what we can do in this area," U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said."
    It's yet another shenanigan and publicity stunt by a *Texas Republican* and a Texas local TV station. I resent that the article submitter did not mention that. Not that I ever was fond of the bot-infested Yahoo chat, but the action of those US Talibans reeks of stink; we found something we didn't like on this thing, nevermind that we shouldn't have been looking for it in the first place, so we'll mess it up *ALL*, for all, and let's take a chance and excuse to legislate!

    Remember that 'sexy cheerleading' legislation?! I hate those folks; buckle up for their attempts, onslaught after first step, to legislate their morality and force it upon all!
  • by dogugotw ( 635657 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:26AM (#12855471)
    Yahoo has chat rooms associated with their yahoo groups - these are still active. They don't display ads on the way in. Group use ads when you view threads - every n items you read, you get to view (ignore) an ad.

    I didn't realize that yahoo also had these ad-hoc chat rooms but that appears to be what's been shut down.

    As several other posters have remarked, this kind of adult/child dialog is nothing new. Way back in the day, when CompuServe was master of the on-line universe and a 2400 baud modem was da bomb, I recall watching my 7 yo daughter chatting on-line on night. When I noticed someone say 'would it matter to you if I was a 27 yo male', I pulled the plug on her chat and permanently shut down her access to chat rooms.

    While I don't condone pedophilia, PARENTS ARE OBLIGATED TO DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES HOW THEY WANT TO MANAGE THEIR CHILDREN'S ACCESS TO THE INTERNET. Please do NOT ask the government or buinesses to become the ethics police, that's MY job.

    I realize it's damn near impossible, and not very healthy, to monitor your kids 24/7, but teaching your kids right and wrong is what we get paid to do - you pop one out and you get the responsibility that comes with the sex.

    • PARENTS ARE OBLIGATED TO DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES HOW THEY WANT TO MANAGE THEIR CHILDREN'S ACCESS TO THE INTERNET. Please do NOT ask the government or buinesses to become the ethics police, that's MY job.

      While I agree with your argument that it ultimately lies with the parent - Yahoo in particular has gone overboard with lack of moderation

      Plus - I don't understand why they would allow their servers to be bogged down so with all the fake profiles, personals, auctions - not to mention the perverse and strang
  • Any legal pointers? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by putko ( 753330 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @05:52AM (#12855523) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone have any legal pointers to what Yahoo! was obligated to do (if anything)? I've tried looking for info on the relevant US law or case law, but I've not seen anything.

    It seems clear that Yahoo! was operating a website in a hands off fashion. Slashdot does the same, right?

    I can image a court could hold Yahoo! liable for any bits they serve (ala China or France), but that sounds un-American.

    The various articles mention that Yahoo! cannot be held criminally liable. Does anyone have further info?

    What about USENET? There's probably tons of illegal stuff floating around on that.
    • Does anyone have any legal pointers to what Yahoo! was obligated to do (if anything)? I've tried looking for info on the relevant US law or case law, but I've not seen anything.

      Part of the point of the article is that Yahoo was not doing anything illegal.

      However advertisers with Yahoo have a different standard - they don't want their advertising dollars used to support these sorts of chat rooms, and have that specifically placed terms in their contracts stating this.

      So while Yahoo may not be in criminal
  • ....did anyone notice that Brawny (paper towels) was listed as an advertiser along with Diet Pepsi? Fat old dudes slurping down a 64oz Big Gulp and vainly attempting to clean the keyboard post chat session...the mind boggles. Now pass the Brawny so I can can clean up the mess caused by blowing my beverage through my nose all over my monitor.
  • by WildBeast ( 189336 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @07:04AM (#12855649) Journal
    So Big Bad Corporation is to blame because it let's users create their own chat rooms. Notice how there's pretty much nothing about those who are creating and participating in those chatrooms. Why blame pedophiles when you can blame The Coporation?

    What's next? "Big Bad Corporations banking on the use of baseball bats by the mob"?
  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) * on Sunday June 19, 2005 @07:08AM (#12855659) Journal
    Yahoo IM and Yahoo personals have become the EXACT same as their chat rooms - just ways for the sexually perverse,incredibly strange, or overly obnoxious marketer to gain attention.

    Yahoo Personals/Yahoo Profiles for instance are about 60% fake - there to be front end or link builders for XXX chat/websites

    Yahoo IM has become almost unbearable to be visible with fake "bot-women" IMming me and inviting me to sex cam chats

    Yahoo auctions are over 90% fake - just look at the Mac Category - I don't think there are but two out of the 45 auctions that are currently up in the Mac category [yahoo.com] that are legit.

  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @08:41AM (#12855917) Journal
    Inevitably, these guys are going to come up with legislation that will be impossible to implement. Just like the library net-nanny laws, which are inevitably going to be doomed to "I thought my kid would be safe if I left him at the library for 4 hours while I did my shopping and a manicure!" lawsuits, it's not going to be possible to screen each and every room name in every language created. Especially, if like IRC, they're simply created automatically.

    See if you can write a regular expression that will block all of these channels. I'll throw in some easy ones as well as some that require actually knowing the subject matter (if you don't get it, try google and ageofconsent.com):

    Let's all have sex with little girls!!!1!
    kome ere 2 c lil kitz
    young kittens 4 men
    t33nz p1><
    Jelly Bracelets R us
    Chilean Wife pix
    tennis player porn
    erotaisou na shashin (I see from other posts that yahoo supposedly supported arabic, so they'd probably have supported japanese as well, and in that case you'll have to match all possible combinations of the japanese alphabets that create that concept)
  • Easy solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 )
    Chat-room paedophiles are like email viruses - it can easily be stopped but everyone is too stupid. Ok so the paedophiles shouldn't be around in the first place, but that's not the point: bad people _do_ exist and that will never ever change so its about fucking time that parents took some responsibility to stop it at their end. I see no reason why a private chat system couldn't be set up were all users are pre-screened or identified. Its very simple: to join kid-safe-chat.com parents would provide ID such
  • I've run a small commercial chat application for almost 5 years and I know that when companies such as Microsoft or Yahoo close their chat services claiming to "protect the children" they are using it only as an excuse to cut either their liability or what accounting sees as a black hole.

    When MSN closed their chat services in 2003, where do they think all of the children and pedophiles went? The pedophiles didn't just disappear and the children certainly didn't go back to riding bicycles. All they did w

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday June 19, 2005 @10:10AM (#12856223) Homepage Journal
    Like ' Americans for the 2nd amendment '.. or ' people who dislike yahoo's service terms' ...

    Somehow I think this is yet another case of 'but its for the children' nonsence.

    Yes, i realize its a commercial company and we have no real free speech rights there. But its still somewhat concerning how people toss the concept aside. It *should* be universal.

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