For any of you that run across this blog site, know what you're stepping off into first. There is virtually no moderation for the site and the personal attacks on bloggers by other bloggers are brutal.
Get this! You can flag an inappropriate comment and you'll be lucky if it's ever removed. If you want it removed within 24 hours, they want you to pay them $19.95! So, you get trolled and attacked and then have to pay the website to remove the offending comments, which are usually numerous so they are making money hand over fist off of their bloggers misery!
The following item was posted on the Kentucky forum from the Attorney General's Office. It's not just Kentucky and Connecticut, this is a problem on all of the forums on Topix in every state and in different countries as well.
In a letter sent today to Topix.com CEO Chris Tolles, General Conway and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Multistate Task Force on Internet Safety, expressed their significant concerns with the Topix.com "Forums and Polls" pages and the website's $19.99 fee for "priority review" of inappropriate posts that violate the website's terms of service. An initial investigation by the attorneys general reveals that the "Forums and Polls" section is used to post derogatory information and appears to operate without moderators. In fact, a large percentage of the posts in some Kentucky forums contain explicit, vulgar, obscene and defamatory posts about citizens, 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 General 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 website would deliberately create an environment where false and derogatory comments about children, or anyone, would be permitted and then allowed to remain on the website."
Generals Conway and Blumenthal urged Topix to remove abusive posts as soon as possible and not try to profit from their removal. The attorneys general also caution that requiring consumers to pay to remove posts that violate the site's terms of service poses serious consumer protection concerns. Even though the website allows users to "flag" posts for removal, consumers have found that to be ineffective in removing posts. Consumers are also 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 website is confusing and appears designed to steer people toward payment of the $19.99 option.
"How outrageous that targets of false and obscene posts may be victimized twicefirst by the abusive comment and then by the charge to remove it. Topix should reward, not rip off, consumers and victims who report abusive posts, particularly any targeting children, that violate the website's own policies," said General Blumenthal.
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 General Conway. "We were successful in working with social networking giants MySpace and Facebook and with Craigslist in making changes to their websites that benefit children. We hope Topix will respond in a similar manner."