Topix to stop charging for fast review of troll complaints

The news and discussion website enters into an agreement with 34 state attorneys general

News and discussion website Topix.com has agreed to stop charging users US$19.99 to expedite the review of abusive or inappropriate posts, after 34 state attorneys general complained about the practice.

Topix, a six-year-old website based in Palo Alto, California, will review all reports of abuse on the site free of charge, under the agreement announced Monday by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. The company will also seek to review and remove inappropriate posts within three working days, instead of the seven to 14 days it previously took, Conway said in a press release.

Topix has also agreed to remove the flagging option for reporting abuse posts. The flagging option was confusing for customers, because it required multiple users to flag a post before it was reviewed, Conway said. That policy led customers to believe posts were being reviewed when they weren't, he said.

"On behalf of the numerous parents, public officials and concerned citizens who have contacted me about Topix, I am 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," Conway said in a statement. "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."

Topix receives 40,000 feedback comments from users each month, said CEO Chris Tolles. Officials at the company thought the charge for an expedited review of a complaint was useful to users, but there was some confusion about the practice, he said. Some users thought Topix was charging to remove abusive comments, when that was not the case, Tolles said.

"The easiest thing for us to do was to talk to [the attorneys general] and come to a resolution, which included removing that from our services," Tolles said. "There are things I feel strongly about -- this is not one of them."

The attorneys general did not accuse the site of anything illegal and did not threaten lawsuits, Tolles said.

Under the agreement, Topix agreed to consult with the attorneys general on any continuing concerns, and it agreed to explore new technologies and processes for preventing misuse of the site.

Consumers can report abusive posts through links on Topix.dom. If abusive posts are not removed within three working days, users can file a report with the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General at topixcomplaints@ag.ky.gov.

Among the attorneys general who joined the agreement are officials from Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio and Virginia.

Topix users generate 130,000 posts per day, Tolles said. The site links news from 50,000 online sources to 360,000 user-generated forums. Newspaper companies Gannett, The McClatchy Co. and Tribune Co. have investments in the site.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantusG. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Tribune Co.Jack Conwaye-commerceregulationTopix.comGannettinternetThe McClatchy Co.governmentKentucky Office of the Attorney GeneralChris Tolles

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?