PeeJ Opinions: Discussing topics relating to what we do

Yahoo Chat more dangerous today than last week



Update: About a month after this was posted, Yahoo shut down the teen chat-rooms and have signaled that they will be bringing back the User-created rooms.

Recently Yahoo, due to pressure from advertisers, shut down their "user-created rooms." For the uninitiated, a "User-created room" is one a regular member creates, not Yahoo. Headlines splashing across some of the names of these rooms have caused a bit of a national sensation recently. Names like "Dads4daughters" and others tend to shock and worry parents about the safety of Yahoo! Chat. So obviously, the recent news of the "user-created" chat-rooms being closed makes people feel relief. Selected quotes by irresponsible "Child safety advocates" who are not on the front lines of the fight against Yahoo! Chat will make it seem like all is well in Yahoo-ville.

Foolish.

Today, Yahoo chat-rooms are even more dangerous than they were prior to the shut-down of the user-created rooms. We at Perverted-Justice.com have been in Yahoo chat-rooms everyday. We've dealt with teens abducted from Yahoo services. We've pulled out over 600 Yahoo users who attempted to entice and prey upon a 10-15 year old kid. We have 17 convictions in 15 different states in the last year. All save a couple were of Yahoo users attempting to prey upon teens. Zero of these users were found in user-created chat-rooms. Why? It is because our organization doesn't bother working user-created chat-rooms. Why? It's a complicated answer that you won't find in your average story about Yahoo closing user-created rooms.

Names like "girl scout rape" and others are certainly disgusting. However, you have to look at the situation realistically. How many minors will be entering a room titled "girl scout rape"? In our experience in speaking with those who were endangered by Yahoo chat, they were preyed upon in regular yahoo rooms. Rooms Yahoo have set-up themselves. These rooms are not affected by the user-created closure. Now, another question is begged. How many creepy males and predators used those user-created rooms? The answer is countless thousands. The area they closed down on Yahoo was lightly, if at all, trafficked by actual teens but were crawling with thousands of people who would, if they had access, try to prey on teens. Now, they can no longer visit User-created rooms.

Do you think they'll just quit chatting?

Thousands upon thousands of mentally-unbalanced deviants will now be flooding into regular Yahoo rooms. This creates a dangerous situation for the regular Yahoo rooms which have tens upon tens of thousands of actual teens in them. And as bad as the regular rooms were, they will now become even worse. Our chat-room "contributors" have reported instances over the last two years of immediately entering a room and having 2-8 messages pop-up at once from overage males trying to get their attention. Now, thousands upon thousands of predators will add to that immense cesspool, their "fantasy" refuge thrown out... they will now be shoulder-to-shoulder with teens in chat-rooms. This measure is a catastrophe. It may possibly double the amount of unwanted sexual solicitations actual teens receive in chat-rooms. To praise this decision from any viewpoint is to praise creating a larger problem than what existed before.

One may counter-argue that "any step is a good step." It's simply untrue when we're speaking of the amount of predators that will now be flooding regular rooms. These "user-created room" users posed little threat to actual children, as illustrated. Now it is open season on Yahoo's servers. Don't fool yourself into thinking that Yahoo doesn't know this... they do. Their measure is a bold public relations move that the media has played themselves right into, unwittingly. It is not a substantive move to make Yahoo chat-rooms safer.

Consider:

-Yahoo has a burgeoning area set-up for "teens." Some of these rooms are titled "teen love" and "Peep's lounge." Some of these rooms are advertised and grouped by certain age. For example, "Shoutouts" is for 13-14 year old kids. "Shoutouts" as of this writing, has the full features of any Yahoo chat which include voice, webcam and file transfer.

-These rooms are accessible to anyone, no matter your age. There are no protections for teens in these rooms. No verification of your actual age.

-None of these rooms feature chat-room moderators or any sort of Yahoo-led protection of actual teens in these rooms. It is a literal "free for all."

-Each of these rooms, compounding the issue… contain "Webcam" features. Webcam is part of Yahoo chat where users will broadcast themselves out for anyone to see. These users often do so naked. One popular perverted tactic is for a overage male to sit in a room spamming regular users with invites... that can be clicked upon to view. If you're in the middle of a keystroke, you can accidentally "agree" to view the cam. Older males sit in these teen rooms, at any given time, doing just this while masturbating and showing themselves explicitly in those rooms.

-It is 9:48 PM, west coast time, on June 23rd, 2005. Opening up the "teen" category (Which is right below "gay, lesbian and bisexual" and past "The transgendered") reveals that there are currently thousands of what are supposed to be teens on Yahoo. Picking a room at random, "Down south 3" gives us predictable results. The majority of the room doesn't have an age on their profile... and less than three minutes of being in the room? The following message is displayed in public chat...

southernstud25469: any girls in ne ga like older tall big blueyed guys wanna chat im me 28/male athens ga

Remember, that's less than three minutes of being in a single, solitary Yahoo teen room.

That's every second of everyday. Every second on Yahoo, there are older males in teen rooms looking to prey upon underage females and males. Yahoo knows this. They have seen the stories of teens abducted from Yahoo chat-rooms. We ourselves located a 14 year old female who met her eventual 47 year old abductor/rapist/torturer in a regular Yahoo chat-room. Not a user-created room. Yahoo knows of these abductions, they're sadly typical. Yahoo also is aware of our existence, and the hundreds upon hundreds of predators we have exposed who were using Yahoo chat. Over 90% of our files are of Yahoo chat-room users.

Yahoo is the most irresponsible internet company on the planet. Nobody can touch just how backwards they are. Yahoo has actually created "teen-specific" regional rooms. So if you're a predator in say, Alabama, you can go to an area where you are almost assured of finding actual teens from Alabama. Yahoo has categorized their chat-rooms in such a way that Yahoo is a predator’s best friend. Teen rooms aren't the only issue. Rooms by region group chatters together from the same areas. Crimes such as robbery, rape, abductions... all have occurred due to these dangerous rooms. Yahoo has no oversight over any of the chat-rooms on their services. The only recourse a parent has is to "complain" to Yahoo about a specific user account. Yahoo, if they take action, will then suspend the person's account. They have no ability to keep predators out of their rooms, as new Yahoo ID's can be made in less than two minutes.

While we're happy to finally, after years, see some... any pressure applied to Yahoo, the pressure is being applied in the wrong area. It is making Yahoo even more dangerous to chat upon, because as stated, the people who were using those terribly-titled rooms will now be in regular Yahoo rooms where teens congregate. That means more individuals like Southerstud25469 trolling Teen chat-rooms at this very second, trying to find new victims.

Yahoo doesn't care. They have had years to address the deficiencies upon their servers. They could have followed in the footsteps of MSN, who have installed moderators in many chats and generally made some, any really, attempt to control what happens to unwitting victims in their rooms. Yahoo actually benefited from MSN's changes as usage of their rooms nearly doubled with former MSN users flooding to Yahoo's servers. Yahoo's "look the other way" policy was in force then, and it's the same now despite their lip service to the contrary.

Until change, real change occurs... Yahoo will continue to have rightfully earned the distinction of being one of the very most unsafe chats on the internet for kids, teens and adults alike. The absence of user-created rooms doesn't lessen the danger one iota.

Today is a tragic day for anti-predator advocates, as we now have to fight two battles. The war Yahoo doesn't want to fight against internet predators... and doubling our attempts to educate parents about the danger of Yahoo chat-rooms against the deceitful public relations of the internet's largest chat-room serving company.


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