PIERRE, S.D.- Attorney General Marty Jackley today joined the attorneys general from 33 other states in reaching an agreement with Internet message board host Topix.com to improve consumer protections and eliminate the $19.99 fee to expedite review of abusive or inappropriate posts found in un-moderated Topix.com forums.
“I am pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement with Topix.com to put a stop to the ‘pay-to-police’ policy to expedite removal of abusive and inappropriate posts,” General Marty Jackley said. “I appreciate the cooperation of Topix and look forward to continuing to work with the company to ensure that South Dakotans, 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 consumers thought they had reported were never reviewed.
Topix.com has 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.
The attorneys general from the following 34 states have joined the initiative to address consumer protection concerns with Topix: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
Topix.com, of Palo Alto, CA describes itself as a “top ten online newspaper destination” which encourages readers to post comments about news items or other matters of community interest.