Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Announces Topix.Com Agreement That Stops "Pay-To-Police" Policy
Attorney General Jack Conway led the effort to stop abuses by Topix.com and today, along with 34 attorneys general who signed on to support his efforts, announced that an agreement has been reached with the Internet message board host to improve consumer protections and eliminate the $19.99 fee to expedite review of abusive or inappropriate posts. The agreement is the result of an initiative led by General Conway, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning to address consumer protection concerns with the popular website.
"On behalf of the numerous parents, public officials and concerned citizens who have contacted me about Topix, I am pleased that we've been able to reach an agreement with the company to put a stop to the ‘pay-to-police' policy on the message board to expedite removal of abusive posts," General Conway said. "I appreciate the cooperation of Topix and look forward to continuing to work with the company to ensure that Kentuckians, particularly our kids, are not being harmed by harassing and abusive posts."
As part of the settlement, all reports of abuse on Topix will be reviewed free of charge. The company will also seek to review and remove inappropriate posts within three working days rather than its previous policy of seven to 14 days. Additionally, Topix has removed the "flagging" option for reporting abusive posts. The option was ineffective and confusing for consumers, as it required multiple users to "flag" a post before it was reviewed. As a result, many inappropriate posts that consumers thought they had reported were never reviewed.
The site has also agreed to make technical and human resources improvements in order to better review and block inappropriate posts.
Topix has also agreed to:
- Continue cooperating with law enforcement agencies in combating unlawful activity on its website
- Consult on an as-needed basis with the attorneys general to discuss issues of concern, including responsiveness to abuse reports and other consumer complaints
- Continue to explore new technology and processes for preventing misuse of its site.
Consumers can report abusive posts by utilizing the links available on the Topix website. If the post is not removed within three working days, consumers are encouraged to report it to the Office of the Attorney General at email@example.com
The attorneys general from the following states and territories have joined General Conway's initiative to address consumer protection concerns with Topix: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
Topix.com, of Palo Alto, Calif. describes itself as a "top ten online newspaper destination," which encourages readers to post comments about news items or other matters of community interest.
Link to Joint Statement from AGs and Topix: http://bit.ly/c6ycpo