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United States

#1 Aug 9, 2010
Conway announces change in Topix.com 's policing policy
Herald-Leader Staff Report Attorney General Jack Conway, along with 34 attorneys general who signed on to support his efforts, announced Monday that an agreement has been reached with Topix.com to improve consumer protections and eliminate the $19.99 fee to expedite review of abusive or inappropriate posts.

The agreement, an effort to stop abuses by the Internet message board host, stems from an initiative led by Conway, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning to address consumer protection concerns with the popular Web site.

The Web site, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., encourages readers to post comments about news items or other matters of community interest.

The attorneys general from the following states and territories have joined the effort to stop abuses by Topix.com : 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.

Conway said in a news release that he was "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."

"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," he said.

As part of the settlement, the release said all reports of abuse on Topix will be reviewed free of charge. Topix also will seek to review and remove inappropriate posts within three working days rather than its previous policy of seven to 14 days.

The message board also has removed the "flagging" option for reporting abusive posts, which was "ineffective and confusing for consumers" because it required multiple users to "flag" a post before it was reviewed, according to the release. Because the process was confusing, many inappropriate posts that consumers thought they had reported were never reviewed, the release said.

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 topixcomplaints@ag.ky.gov .

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