Feeds

Yahoo! is pornmonger no more

Consumer pressure

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Two years ago, Yahoo! began flogging hardcore pornographic videos on its US Web sites, No-one, except for a few customers we assume, noticed, until last Monday, when the LA Times noted the relaunch of the portal's adult section.

The news spread like wildfire, and in results week too; by Thursday, Yahoo! had been swamped by so many complaints that it announced its decision to stop selling porn products on Yahoo! Shopping, Yahoo! Auctions and Yahoo! Classifieds.

The company is going even further - it is to stop being a pornmonger altogether, by pulling banner ads from hardcore Web sites (although it will honour existing contracts).

Yahoo! individual country managers are allowed to make their own policy on porn matters, but it seems unlikely that they will diverge too far from their parent company.

Yahoo! says the decision will have an immaterial effect on results - so why was it involved in flogging and advertising hardcore porn in the first place?

Yahoo! is a mass-market operation, and mass-market operations do not sell pornography. Full stop. This is not simply a question of morality, but simple business sense - annoy too many customers and you will end up being a non-mass market business.

Porn No More

By scrapping the sale of pornography on its US auction site, the company shows that it can, when it is forced by American public opinion, take responsibility for what is sold. It shows just how hollow was Yahoo!'s free-speech argument, when confronted by demands from the French government to bar access to Nazi memorabilia from its citizens.

Yahoo! has a choice, a business moral choice, to allow or to ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia on its auction site... as it does with porn.

In the case of porn, the company cannot say that it is merely a conduit for other people's activities. By taking porn advertising, by taking commission from video porn retailers, Yahoo! is, or was actively involved in trafficking pornography.

The porn controversy won't simply die down either - the company now has the American Family Association on its tail. In a press release, the lobby group accuses Yahoo! of trafficking child pornography, through its Yahoo! Geocities operation. It urges the Attorney General to take action.

Now we all know that Geocities is a communities portal, and that Yahoo! has no involvement in the content of member sites, and that it has rules expressly forbidding members to post illegal content on their sites. And that, when the company is alerted to illegal material (especially child pornography), it will shut down the offending site - maybe contact the appropriate authorities even. In other words, Yahoo! takes responsibility.

However you dress it, portals are not simply blind common carriers, in the manner of the telcos - even in the US. (In February, Buffalo, NY -based ISP BuffNET was fined for hosting a child porn site, even after it had been informed about the nature of the Web site's business).

This makes for complicated checks and balances for content-publishing ISPs, and huge professional indemnity insurance premiums, but that's the game they're in. ®

Related stories

Yahoo! pumps up porn sales
Yahoo! flies to US court over Nazi memorabilia row
Yahoo! Nazi tech expert backtracks
AltaVista pimps for pornmonger

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.