The announcement last week that the financially-struggling Yahoo Inc. was to quietly begin expanding its offerings of pornographic videos and DVDs threatened to make Yahoo the first top-tier Internet company to actively embrace the pornography industry. The company has been offering such products for the past two years. Two days after the announcement, however, in response to a flood of customer complaints, Yahoo decided that it would not sell pornography.
While such a move sounds good, on the surface, the beauty is only skin deep. Yahoo will continue to derive revenues from premium links to pornographic sites – to the tune of $599 per link. Currently, Yahoo provides links to more than 10,000 pornographic web sites.
Yahoo is not alone in its efforts to mainstream pornography. Last year AT&T, facing a similar decline in its own stock prices, made the decision to carry Vivid Entertainment’s hard-core Hot Network as part of its cable television line-up. That decision was met with much scrutiny.
Last December, a group of eight institutional investors controlling more than 1.6 million AT&T shares, filed a proxy resolution urging “Ma Bell” to review its role as a pornography distributor. The filers, led by Mennonite Mutual Aid, included Catholic Health East, Christian Brothers Investment Services, the Benedictine Sisters of San Antonio, and MMA’s Praxis Mutual Funds. They are the first group to file a pornography-focused resolution targeting a major U.S. media company.