Yahoo to be porn-free

Summary:Responding to members' requests, the Internet giant says it will remove adult-related products from its shopping, auction and classified Web sites.

Web giant Yahoo said it will pull adult-related entertainment products and banner advertisements from its site in response to concerns raised by its customers.

Over the next few weeks, Yahoo will pull all pornography-related products from the shopping, auction and classified areas of its site. In addition, the company will stop selling ad banner space to sellers of pornography.

The moves come just two days after the company confirmed that it was selling adult entertainment products, such as movies on DVD and video. Yahoo doesn't directly own the inventory of these products. Rather, it sells third-party merchandise through its service or lets people auction products on its site for a fee.

"While Yahoo has offered controlled access to adult products available via the Internet since launching our commerce services more than two years ago, many of our users voiced concerns this week about some of the products sold by merchants on Yahoo Shopping. We heard them and swiftly responded," Yahoo President Jeff Mallett said in a statement.

Yahoo has come under considerable scrutiny in the past few days after the Los Angeles Times reported that the company was expanding its online sales into sex-related videos and DVDs.

The question now is whether the decision not to accept adult advertising and merchandise sales will affect Yahoo's financial performance. The effect is still unclear, but it is likely negligible, analysts said.

"I'm not going to change my estimates because of it," said Jeffrey Fieler, an equity analyst at Bear Stearns. "Certainly pornographic material on the Net overall is a money-generating business, but there really has been no way to estimate what Yahoo gets out of it. I would say the numbers are small enough not to have a material impact on an overall basis."

Yahoo's financial performance has been under close watch since the company slashed its revenue expectations for the year. The souring market has caused a recession in the flow of advertising dollars to the company. The Web giant has since begun scrambling to change course by developing its non-advertising revenue, such as introducing paid "premium services" and pushing its corporate products.

On Wednesday, Yahoo announced it would lay off 12 percent of its work force when it reported earnings. The company generated net income of $7.6 million on sales of $180 million for the first quarter of 2001. That's much less than its $230 million in sales for the same period last year.

The company expects to generate between $700 million and $775 million in revenue for 2001.

Currently, Yahoo still has ad banners for sex-related Web sites. Entering the word "sex" into Yahoo's search directory results in a list of links for sex-related content on the site and advertisements for other sex sites.

Despite the outcry, Yahoo's support of pornography on its services is not new. The company said is has sold sex-related products on Yahoo Shopping for more than two years. The products have been guarded against underage access through a credit card screening process for age verification.

A Yahoo statement issued Wednesday said the company has received "little negative user feedback regarding adult products" to date.

Topics: Tech Industry

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