Mississippi and 33 Others Issue Joint Statement Concerning Conversations with Internet Message Board to Stop Abusive Posts
August 9, 2010

Contact: Jan Schaefer
Public Information Officer
601-359-2002
[email protected]

Jackson, MS–Attorney General Jim Hood today joined the attorneys general from 33 other states and territories in issuing a joint statement concerning the Internet message board host Topix.com and it’s handling of abuse and inappropriate posts. The statement is the result of an initiative to improve consumer protections on the website.

“We attorneys general are concerned about derogatory posts that are personal in nature, particularly those that related to minors,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “As a parent and a public official, I am pleased that discussions with this company will result in several measures that will deter inappropriate activity on the Topix website.”

Key elements of the AG’s Joint Statement are:

* Topix agrees to eliminate the $19.99 fee for priority review. In the future no fees will be charged for review of abusive posts.
* Topix agrees to eliminate the current “flagging” system for reporting abusive posts. Previously, posts reported via this system were only reviewed if flagged by users at 3 different IP addresses, meaning many personal abusive posts were never reviewed.
* Topix agrees to continue to improve screening methods and technology to block posts that violate its Terms of Service.
* Topix agrees to use commercially reasonable effort to try and achieve a response time of three working days for responding to abusive post reports. This is consistent with the commitment made by MySpace and Facebook.
* Topix agrees to continue to cooperate with law enforcement, and provide contact information for prompt response to urgent law enforcement requests as well as a “primer” containing instructions for subpoenas and search warrants.
* Topix and the Attorneys General will consult on an as needed basis to address issues of concern.

“I appreciate the cooperation of Topix and look forward to continuing to work with the company to ensure that our citizens, particularly our kids, are not being harmed by harassing and abusive posts,” said Attorney General Hood.

Along with Mississippi, the attorneys general from the following states and territories 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, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, North Dakota, 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.