Adult-themed advertisements on one area of free Web site community GeoCities is causing an uproar among some members who accuse the company of a double standard, according to published reports.
While the company prohibits individual members from displaying pornographic material and removes pages that contain nudity, GeoCities began allowing adult-themed ads in a search area on the site on March 22.
Some members suggest the change is a result of the January announcement that GeoCities is being acquired by the Yahoo search site, which has more liberal adult material policies.
GeoCities spokesman Bruce Zanca called the transition coincidental. Zanca added that only visitors who “self-selected” such topics would be shown the ads, which appear exclusively on a search feature located on the company pages.
The anti-pornography policy for GeoCities’ members, Zanca said, will not change. Members who sign up to join the free service are warned in community guidelines posted clearly on the site, “We do not allow any nudity or pornography in GeoCities.” The site currently hosts to 4 million members.
Some called the new advertising policy a breach of the entire community’s guidelines.
“Two years ago, these banner ads would have been unthinkable. As GeoCities becomes a major corporation as opposed to a small company, executives are disregarding the original idea behind GeoCities,” said Geocities member Cheryl Nelson. Other members called the policy “reprehensible.”
Other Web sites have turned away adult ads in order to establish themselves as family friendly businesses.
GeoCities rival LookSmart announced a new policy last December to block ads for adult sites. Executives at the service said that immediately following the decision, the company’s revenue dropped 20 percent with the loss of adult ads, but that revenues from new advertisers have since more than doubled, according to the report.
Media Matrix ranked GeoCities the sixth most-visited site in March.
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