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Internet portal Yahoo shut down its user-created chat rooms after a television news series showed the online service used in apparent attempts to lure children for sex.Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako would not say whether the decision was in response to a series on KPRC, the NBC affiliate in Houston, that showed online discussions bearing titles such as "9-17 Year Olds Wantin' Sex" and "Girls 12 and Under for Older Guys."Some of Yahoo's advertisers, such as Pepsico Inc.and State Farm Insurance Cos., said Thursday that they pulled their advertising because of the series."We were completely unaware that our ads were associated with these chat rooms in any way," Pepsico spokesman David De Cecco said.
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Users may still participate in online chat rooms that the company creates."Yahoo chat was never where kids should be," said Parry Aftab, executive director of Wired Safety.org, a Web site that promotes online safety for children.
Aftab said she would be happy for the company to bring the service back if there were a way to keep children safe."Yahoo has always cared a lot about these issues, but they've mostly worked behind the scenes," she said.
"If there's anybody I would trust to do this right, it would be them."This is not the first time Yahoo's image has risked being tarnished by people seeking to lure children or to trade pornographic material involving minors.
A 2001 FBI investigation targeted certain Yahoo users and resulted in the arrest of more than 100 people.
As of December 14, 2012 Yahoo discontinued their chat rooms.
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