Rarely does one see activism work so well. Last week, as Weblog noted, the Los Angeles Times published an article about Yahoo!'s entry into the pornography industry. As the Internet forecasts call for continued gloom, the portal mammoth had decided to branch into one of the biggest moneymakers on the Web by stocking its video and DVD store with hardcore porn. Public reaction was swift—and Yahoo's reaction to that reaction was even swifter. "We had a large outpouring" of concern, Yahoo president Jeff Mallet tells the Times. (The New York Times reports that, according to Mallet, the company received 100,000 e-mail messages complaining about the pornographic content after the article appeared Wednesday). "People felt concerned that [adult materials] didn't make a better experience for them. We listened and made a decision."
That decision went beyond just removing its "adult and erotica" video store. It also will no longer accept banner ads from porn merchants, nor will it allow pornography to be sold in its online auctions and classifieds areas—a change of policies that have stood for years. As The New York Times notes, "For years, Yahoo officials defended these practices, arguing that it was simply offering the information of interest to each user. … [Mallet] said that Yahoo chose to change its longstanding policy because it was serving a broader and more diverse audience than when it started accepting ads for pornographic sites in 1997."
In its follow-up article, the Los Angeles Times reports that entering the pornography sales business was no whim for Yahoo; the company had been working on the plans with adult film companies for the past 18 months. (Future plans included porn star bios and interviews.) Anti-pornography ...1
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