Attorney General responds to complaints about Topix
Posted in the Junction City Forum
#1 Feb 17, 2010
Attorney general responds to complaints about Topix
Boyle County attorney receives frequent complaints
February 12, 2010
FRANKFORT — Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has joined with Connecticut’s attorney general to ask a company that runs a popular Internet message board site to make it easier to remove inflamatory material.
The attorney general’s office said its office of consumer protection has received dozens of calls and complaints about Topix.com , an interactive message board Web site host.
People have reported false and defamatory information about children and adults posted on the Topix Web site. There also have been complaints that methods provided for removing the posts don’t work unless consumers pay a $19.99 fee.
Boyle County Attorney Richard Campbell said his office has regularly received complaints from people who are upset about what has been written about them on the site.
“It is a problem and you can understand how it would upset people,” Campbell said.“People get into a back-and-forth on there, and it is easier to do on the Internet. But we see it in all different modes of communication from telephone to letters to face to face.”
In a letter sent Thursday to Topix.com CEO Chris Tolles, Conway and his Connecticut counterpart Richard Blumenthal, chairman of the National Association of Attorneys General Multistate Task Force on Internet Safety, expressed “significant concerns” about the abusive posts and asked for more information regarding the company’s policies dealing with them.
An initial investigation by the attorneys general revealed that the “Forums and Polls” section is used to post derogatory information and appears to operate without moderators. The investigation found that a large percentage of the posts in some Kentucky forums contain explicit, vulgar, obscene and defamatory posts about people, including children.
“Abusive or negative posts can have a devastating impact on youth. Tragically, many teenagers today turn to suicide as a way to escape abuse or cyberbullying on the Internet,” said Conway.“I have heard from parents, consumers and officials from across Kentucky who have complained about the outrageous comments that are allowed to be posted and not policed by Topix. General Blumenthal and I find it deplorable that any Web site would deliberately create an environment where false and derogatory comments about children, or anyone, would be permitted and then allowed to remain on the Web site.”
The attorneys general urged Topix to remove abusive posts as soon as possible and not try to profit from their removal. The attorneys general also cautioned that requiring consumers to pay to remove posts that violate the site’s terms of service poses serious consumer protection concerns.
#2 Feb 17, 2010
Charge for removal
Even though the Web site allows users to “flag” posts for removal, consumers have found that to be ineffective in removing posts.
Consumers also are given the option of paying $19.99 for an “expedited review,” which does appear effective in having the post removed. The attorneys general also complain that the Web site is confusing and appears designed to steer people toward payment of the $19.99 option.
Campbell said he agrees with the attorney generals’ concerns over methods for removing offensive material. However, he said it is difficult, if not impossible, to prosecute people for their comments on the site.
“Someone might be able to pursue a civil action, but we don’t really have the authority to issue investigative subpoenas unless we have a clear criminal case with a clear threat,” Campbell said.
The attorneys general say they respect a person’s First Amendment rights and the protections afforded to Internet Service Providers by federal law; however, the First Amendment does not protect libelous comments. In their letter, they ask Tolles to contact them to respond to the concerns they have expressed.
“We hope that Topix will address our concerns in a constructive and positive way,” said Conway.“We were successful in working with social networking giants MySpace and Facebook and with Craigslist in making changes to their Web sites that benefit children. We hope Topix will respond in a similar manner.”
#3 Feb 18, 2010
I have had slanderous posts on topix about me and my children was also included! This is the way I feel (I am an adult and people can say whatever they want about me but when it comes to my children that is totally different)! I do not let my children on the internet because of ignorant people posting comments about children! That is just wrong!! I will tell you one thing if I had found out who posted comments on my children I might be in jail because I would kick thier butt! I am the one that looks out for my children and I will never stand by while some idot tells lies on my children!!
#4 Feb 18, 2010
Here is where to find more on this. Go to ....Google...The State Journal Frankfort Ky. Go to Search this site. Put in "Mean Online Comments". This will take you to the story someone talked about on here last night. The story was in the Advocate Messenger.
#5 Feb 19, 2010
I totally agree. This site is crazy. Far beyond want it is meant to be used for.
#6 Feb 19, 2010
this site will get shut down soon
its gotten way out of hand
#7 Feb 20, 2010
And so have you Aaron. So have you!!
#8 Feb 20, 2010
go somewhere else with that crap
#9 Feb 20, 2010
oops!!!!! Touched a nerve!!!!
#10 Feb 20, 2010
im not mad but u sound like a child talkin like that
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