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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Tribune Co.e-commerceJack ConwayregulationTopix.comGannettKentucky Office of the Attorney GeneralgovernmentThe McClatchy Co.internetChris Tolles

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

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?