Kentucky Attorney General Takes on Topix

By: Daniel Kemp Email
By: Daniel Kemp Email

Kentucky's top prosecutor says he's looking at taking possible legal action on the community news website Topix.

Attorney General Jack Conway says teachers, parents and even kids say inappropriate and inaccurate posts are popping up on the site about them, and little or nothing is being done about it.

"We started getting a lot of complaints, dozens of complaints from all across the Commonwealth of Kentucky," Conway said.

Attorney General Jack Conway is taking on Topix, the largest local forum site in the U.S.

"Topix by its own terms and conditions says that if you flag something, they're supposed to look at it and get it down," Conway said. "What we found out in practice is that it's very difficult to get anything down."

Conway says he, along with the attorney general of Connecticut, have expressed concerns about the way Topix handles false, obscene or abusive posts that make it onto the site.

Conway says he also has a problem with a $19.99 priority review fee the site charges if someone wants a post taken down fast.

"We want Topix to number one, do a better job of monitoring its website," Conway said.

"We probably dedicate about 20-percent of the company's resources towards policing the forums, so it's not like our forums are unmoderated or that we do not actually deal with feedback," said Chris Tolles, CEO for Topix.

Tolles says in January alone, out of four-million comments, 410,000 were removed before they even made it onto the site.

But at the same time, Tolles says people have a right to speak their minds.

"We are the place that if you want to complain about your sheriff, or the mayor, or the attorney general, we're the site to do it," Tolles said.

Tolles says anyone can submit a complaint to the site, which is then reviewed by his staff.

He says the $19.99 fee just speeds up the process.

But Conway says that fee, combined with the design of the site's feedback system, pose serious consumer protection concerns.

"If they do not respond to our satisfaction, then we won't hesitate to use any legal means at our disposal," Conway said.

Topix CEO Chris Tolles says his company is currently looking to see what can be done so that users are more aware that the site is being policed.

He also notes that Kentucky is one of the top states in America using Topix.


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