Search engine giant Yahoo! has said it will remove the public chat rooms feature of its messaging tool Yahoo! Messenger on Dec 14, and replace it, along with other features to be scrapped, with new features.
Yahoo! Messenger is among the first online messaging tools the company launched in 1998.
The chat room feature came under fire in 2005 after reports of illegal under-age sex-themed rooms, with advertisers threatening to pull ads forcing the company to close several chat rooms including “girls 13 & up for much older men,” “teen girls for older fat men” and “8-12 yo [year-old] girls for older men.”
The company later announced it would restrict the service to users aged 18 and older.
Yahoo! in a blogpost said the tool had to be closed as it was not “adding enough value” to users.
The company also confirmed it would remove the Pingbox and Windows Live Messenger interoperability on Dec 24, while some other features will be taken out at the end of January.
“This helps us spend more energy on creating experiences that make Yahoo the most fun way to spend your time,” Yahoo! said, adding that it will now focus on modernizing its “core products experience.”
Other sites that offer online chat services have also been implicated in under-age sex scandals. In June 2012, Habbo Hotel, which is a popular social networking site for children, suspended shortly its chat function after allegations that pedophiles were using the virtual hotel to coach youngsters on sex.
An investigation later found that explicit sex chats were common within minutes of logging into the virtual hotel.