Yahoo closes chat rooms over child sex concerns

Pepsi and others pull ads amid worries that adults were using the chat rooms to seduce minors.

Yahoo has shut down its user-created chat rooms after a TV station reported that some of them were being used by adults to promote sex with minors.

The chat rooms were shut down in the last week, but Yahoo's other chat rooms are still up, Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako said Thursday.

The closed chat rooms had titles such as "Girls 13 and Under for Older Guys" and "Younger Girls for Older Guys," according to a report by KPRC-TV in Houston. Advertisers including Pepsi Cola, State Farm Insurance and Georgia-Pacific withdrew their ads after they found out their ads were appearing in the chat rooms, the TV station said.

Osako declined to confirm or deny the report, saying only that Yahoo is "working on improvements to the service to enhance the user experience and compliance with our terms of service. Yahoo condemns abuse of Internet tools and services for illegal activities."

She could not specify how many sites in total were shuttered.

Dave DeCecco, a spokesman for Pepsi Cola in Purchase, N.Y., confirmed the KPRC report.

"We were notified back in April by the Houston TV station that our ads were associated with these chat rooms. We were unaware of the situation," he said. "We worked with Yahoo to pull them right away and they did."

Pepsi is still advertising on other parts of the Yahoo Web site, DeCecco said.

Yahoo's user agreement prohibits users from harming minors in any way and from making available any content that is unlawful, obscene or objectionable.

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