MSN to close chat rooms around world

MSN to close chat rooms around world

Summary: update Microsoft will shut down Internet chat rooms in 28 countries, including several parts of Asia, citing concerns about pedophiles and sex predators.

TOPICS: Browser
update Microsoft will shut down Internet chat rooms in 28 countries, including most of Asia, citing concerns about pedophiles and sex predators.

From Oct. 14, MSN chat services in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and much of Latin America will be terminated or converted to subscription services. In Asia, only Japan will offer subscriber-based chat. Chat services will be terminated in the rest of the region.

As for how it will affect users, a spokesperson for MSN said the number of chat room users in Singapore are "insignificant". Less than 2.8 percent of the total 3.9 million users on MSN Singapore use MSN Chat Room, she said.

Australia's NineMSN has announced it will close its chat-rooms in the interests of child safety, effective 14 October.

A spokeswoman for NineMSN told ZDNet Australia the Australian chat-rooms are among those that will be axed--both the moderated and unmoderated chat-rooms are to go--with only "occasional celebrity chats" to remain. The service currently has 300,000 users in Australia alone.

MSN's U.S. chat-rooms will stay but will be shifted to a subscription model to promote accountability. Users will have to pay a subscription by credit card, a move that is hoped will strip them of true anonymity and promote better behaviour.

The cloak of anonymity afforded to Internet chatters has made it a popular way for pedophiles to meet impressionable children. NineMSN's spokeswoman says that's not something the company wants to be associated with.

"In the U.S. they've decided to keep chat but it will become a subscription service," the spokeswoman said. "It will be easier for them to monitor that site and for people to be held accountable."

However it's a different story in Australia and the U.K.--the services are simply being pulled offline. "In Australia and in U.K. we've made a decision that it's in fact best to close the site altogether," she said. "We think that increasingly chat sites are being misused and we want to ensure people have a safe and enjoyable online experience."

While recognising that the abuse of Internet chat is an industry-wide issue, the spokeswoman said NineMSN believes the move will "make a difference".

Chat channel operators on AustNet, an Australian Internet Relay Chat (IRC) service, strongly disagree. One operator, known as "maddog", told ZDNet Australia in a chat session that children will simply use other chat technologies and the paedophiles will follow them--the key is supervision.

"I don't know that closing MSN chat rooms will protect children at all. They'll just move to another form chat, ie IRC or ICQ," he said. "Parental supervision is the only effective way really. Parents wouldn't let their children hang out near pubs or any other area where their safety might be compromised, so why allow it to happen over the Internet?" he asked.

Another operator, who declined to be named, agreed. "IRC will always have a huge base of users... IRC is fast, secure, great for peer to peer file sharing, and it's versatile," they said. "The other thing about IRC is that it's not controlled by a company like Microsoft who can come along and shut it down.... IRC is owned by individuals, not corporations."

A seasoned AustNet chatter, Nitr0, broadly agrees. "Paedophiles will target wherever the children are, so they would go to MSN because it has more kids. If [the kids] start coming on IRC the paedophiles will just follow them," he said. "The only real way to stop paedophiles is to educate our children and supervise their Internet access until they're at a suitable age."

The move to a subscription model in the U.S. was a positive one, he said. "It's a lot easier to stop children going to adults area's if they are registered on the chat network, and their details are verified," he said.

A good idea might be "a children's username which wouldn't have access to where adults go, and you could have a 'childcare' system organised where only specific adults are allowed in that area," he added.

Unlike the operators, nitr0 says the closure might actually make a difference, at least in the short term. "I think it will make people spread around the net more because alot of them just dont know IRC... they know Microsoft chat," he said.

Free, moderated MSN chatrooms will remain in Japan, Brazil, Canada and New Zealand. Unmoderated, subscription based services will remain in the US, Canada and Japan. The changes will not affect MSN Messenger.

ZDNet Australia's Patrick Gray reported from Sydney.

Topic: Browser

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  • By closing down msn I don't think that it will stop child sex offenders from harming children because they are only going to follow them to chat places like Yahoo and all the others that are around. As a parent myself i think it would be easier to try and set up new security measures to help with the problem. A lot of people out there are going to suffer because of these people and children that go into the chat rooms. They are only asking for trouble.
  • i dont think there is a need to close down msn chat room. You all are thinking a wrong way, MSN is for friend to contact each other and have our fun time chating in it. if u all close down the msn they will loss contact with friend that are other country.
    MSN are just finding an excuse to charged us money.
  • yes i agree that that people are misusing the net and i would like to say that it should be more protected but wat about all the innocent ppl that like to chat and make friends as well? to us its unfair and should be takin into concideration as well. I understand that there are ppl who are pedifilers and not good ppl but need think of others who arnt to and love to chat on msn. I think parents should keep there kids off the net to keep them safe from harm parents should do there job as well.
  • Australian Ninemsn have just coped out. 300,000 users get dumped over a minority. but thats right minority votes win over here dont they.
    I guess one way is for someone else to get rich is to make another chat room program like msn. Hey maybe i might do that.
    By the way will we still get to keep our hotmail accounts???
  • No Way!
    I use the MSN Messenger chat client, it is very useful, but why close down? What about kids, I'm one, around twelve to fourteen years old. (Can't give you the exact age.) That lame idea is not recommended. If those who want children to be protected from hackers, whatnots, they CAN look of what we type. What pornography? - You think a child would want to see all this? No damn hell. If you strictly agree to me, great, if not, I'll debate with you.
  • i think it isnt a gd idea 2 close down the chatrooms. We can still move to IRC, ICQ, etc. There's no point closing down MSN Chatrooms. It's their choice they want to engage in pornographies. The others have no interest. Why not just ban the users who create unacceptable chatrooms? it isn't fair for us, those who hasnt done anything. its our lifeline and we havent done anything wrong... why take it away from us??
  • Closing chat is NOT the answer! This is a not a well thought out plan of avtion.
    This decision causes alot of heartbreak and sorrow worldwide. This closing will be a dark spot on the pages of history,
    I am deeply saddened.
  • MSN's decision to shutdown the NineMSN (Australian) chatrooms is unfair. I know a number of people who due to various reasons, such as family commitments with kids, social isolation, disabilities, etc, use these rooms as one of their only forms of socializing as they are unable to just pop on down the local pub, club or coffee shop. Why should these people, who have never abused a chat room, be punished because of a minority who do?

    Children aren't silly, as most I know can spot a phoney a mile off, and I am not blaming parents, but I also believe if parents are concerned someone may prey upon their childrens vunerabilities, they need to consider not allowing their children to visit chatrooms or monitoring what their children do online more closely, even if it involves using some sort of monitoring software one their computer. If parents are to allow their children to continue to chat, they need to sit down and explain that not all chatters are as well intentioned as they may be. It is unfortunate, but it seems the old "stranger danger" talks of the 80's and early 90's need to be resurrected and adapted for chat circumstances.

    But you know what would not surprise me? If MSN are just using this as a good excuse to make money on what chatters once could use for free! I can see them losing a lot of chatters, as most I know are not going to pay, not if they can get it free somewhere else. And if they think charging for chat will stop kids chatting on MSN, think again. Kids will just use mum or dad's credit card, at least until they get caught. Mostly though, it is going to cause kids to go chat elsewhere, and as has been said, the perverts who prey on them will just follow. It's not stopping the problem, just moving it elsewhere.

    It saddens me to see the NineMSN chatrooms die. If not for them, I would not have met some of the best friends I could have hoped share my life with, both online and in real life, and if not for the few idiots you get in these rooms, I wouldn't have changed chatroom and met my partner of two years. So many people are going to miss out of the possibility of the same experience happening to them. Get your act together MSN! 300,000 chatters on NineMSN can't be wrong; there must be something good there for there to be so many!
  • I think this will drive more traffic to better managed sites like which also offer more features
  • why close the rooms where whispers can be switched off and even links can be undisplayed MSN have really not thought the problem of pedophilia out properly. this decision will force chatters worldwide to places that are un-moderated and are more likely to fall foul of any pedophiliac. MSN has had the power to moderate this problem for years but they chose not to. IRC has for many years been used to chat but is more complex tha premade chatrooms so any normal kid wont have the experience to use the program but as far as i know a chat server is so easily setup that who knows what a pedophile ring may do now they may even create a new chat service directed specifically to kids. this to me is a more dangerous time for kids as the people behind these attrocities do have money and the wherewithall to setup this sort of thing. this decision has scared me more than any other for when my son grows up and starts using the internet as msn was so easy to filter any bad language or links to the more seedier parts of the internet.

    from a concerned parent
  • I think its pathetically stupid how this bid to shut down MSN chat rooms is quickly taking place. Why now have they decided to do it? This has been going on for years and years. If it was a real concern to them, then they would have made some action awhlie ago. They are only thinkin of themeselves in turn of money. I am a university student, and I chat on MSN mainly to meet up with other students to do group work online. MSN provides so much for innocent users, so what stop all this for? Youngsters should not be permitted to enter chat rooms anyways... and they should be banned from using them..
  • I'm so worry and sad, 'cause recently I meet an amazing Australian man, who wants to make a relationship with me...

    Now how can we could be in touch? I don't have his full name, either his phone number, nothing... Only his MSN account... Could u please contact him, and tell him that he has to call me back?

    Or tell him, that please writte me to this e-mail:

    Thanks a lot
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  • Well all I can say is Microsoft you should be ashamed of yourself. A multi-billion dollar company and you still aren't happy with the millions of dollars you have, you now have to devise a plan to get more. Well in the end you will loose out because everyone will go to other chat sites. No one will want to pay, of the 300,000 users here in Australia I know who won't be laughing all the way to the bank. All I can say all good things come to those who wait.
  • hello kate how the hell are ya are any of us gonna talk to me

    Come Join Aussies in here Aussie chat aint dead just moved around a bit
    its free its monatered its fun