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Topix.com to clean up abusive posts

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray yesterday joined 33 other attorneys general to announce a joint statement with Topix focused on cleaning up cyberbullying related to the news forum website.

The agreement is the result of a multi-state effort requesting that Topix.com change its website policies concerning abusive postings involving minors.

“My office received several complaints that minors have been using this website as a ‘slam book,’ posting personal attacks against each other,” said Cordray. “To add insult to injury, this website charged consumers $19.99 for a ‘priority review’ in order to determine whether the postings warranted removal. In many circumstances, the company refused to remove the abusive posts.”

In yesterday’s joint statement, Topix agrees to:

Eliminate the $19.99 fee for priority review. In the future, no fees will be charged for review of abusive posts.

End its “flagging” system for reporting abusive posts. Previously, posts reported via this system were only reviewed if flagged by users at three different IP addresses, meaning many abusive posts were never reviewed.

Continue to improve screening methods and technology to block posts that violate its terms of service.

Make commercially reasonable efforts to try and achieve a response time of three working days for responding to reports of abusive posts.

Continue to cooperate with law enforcement and provide contact information for prompt response to urgent law enforcement requests.

Consult with attorneys general on an as-needed basis to address issues of concern.

Participating attorneys general include those from the following:  Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

To read the joint statement, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/TopixAgreement

For more information or to report an unfair practice, contact Attorney General Cordray’s office at www.SpeakOutOhio.gov or (800) 282-0515.