Chat Rooms Closed, Advertisers Bolt at Yahoo!

Yahoo shut down its user-created chat rooms earlier this month after a Houston TV news team discovered pedophiles trying to lure minors there. In response to the revelation, several marquee advertisers had already pulled their ads from those pages.

According to KPRC, advertisers including PepsiCo, State Farm Insurance, Countrywide Mortgage and T-Mobile yanked their ad placements from all Yahoo chat rooms after being told by reporters that their messages had appeared adjacent to forum discussions on sex with minors, among other topics.

In addition to shutting down all user-created chat rooms, Yahoo has made unavailable the ability to create new chat rooms.

“We are working on improvements to the service to enhance the user experience and compliance with our terms of service,” said spokesperson Mary Osako, who gave no timeline for reinstating the chat rooms. A statement identical to Osako’s greets Yahoo users who try to create a new room.

Pepsi is a longtime Yahoo advertiser, having regularly placed campaigns on the portal for at least five years. A spokesperson for Pepsi said its withdrawal from the chat rooms did not extend to other areas of Yahoo

“We were completely unaware that our ads were associated with these chat rooms in any way,” said Dave DeCecco, a spokesman for Pepsi-Cola. “As soon as we were aware we worked with Yahoo to immediately remove them.”

Yahoo declined to say how much ad inventory is represented by the nixed content.

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