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Jack Conway's war on Topix isn't over just yet. On Feb. 11, Conway and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sent a joint letter to Topix CEO Chris Tolles asking Topix.com to provide information regarding its policies dealing with abusive posts that violate the site's terms of service.
Conway's Office of Consumer Protection has received calls and complaints from residents who allege that false and defamatory information about children, as well as adults, has been posted on Topix. They have also complained that the tools provided by Topix to remove the abusive posts are ineffective unless they agree to pay a $19.99 fee.
Topix responded to the letter, but according to a statement on Conway's website, failed to make any significant changes. Conway says Topix "failed to eliminate its pay-to-police fee."
Since then, attorneys general from 21 other states have joined in the fight.
I must first admit little knowledge of Topix. I seldom go to the site. However, after catching up on Conway's crusade, I visited the site to see if, in fact, there was still a charge for an expedited review of posts reported as abusive. I wasn't given the option of paying.
Maybe not. In my brief perusal of the site, I saw lots of hate - people making fun of others because of religion, education, spelling, views, etc. The abuse is still there, but at least Topix is no longer offering an expedited review at a cost.
According to Conway's office, reporting an abusive post that violates Topix's terms of service will see that post removed within 48 to 72 hours. You must click "report abuse," then "send feedback" and then complete the form that pops up. Simply flagging the post as inappropriate may not result in any action.
Of course, the better option would be for cyber bullies to grow a conscience and treat others with respect. However, I'm old enough to know such a thing as decency has been dead for a long, long time in this world.
Why has something as innocent as an Internet message board gotten so out of control? I'll let Will Rogers clear that one up - "The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them."
There are plenty of useful and engaging discussions taking place on Topix and other sites like it, but it only takes one bad apple.
So, to all those anonymous message board geeks who daily berate people for being Baptist, Catholic, atheist, agnostic, gay, straight, fat, skinny, bald, long-haired hippies who can't spell, I say try some introspection. You probably won't like what you find there either.