Legal officers from 21 states and territories have joined Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in criticism of the news and discussion Web site Topix.com. The site allows users to publish comments on online news stories from across the country.
The attorneys general have issued a signed, written statement to Chris Tolles, the CEO of Topix, about a $19.99 fee consumers pay for "priority review" of inappropriate comments, meaning the comments might be removed from the site faster. According to the letter, many abusive posts on Topix concern minors.
Viewers can also "flag" comments, or report them as abusive, for free. Officials called the flagging option "ineffective."
"Topix has acknowledged that posts are not even placed into the queue for removal unless users from three separate IP addresses 'flag' a post," the letter says.
The letter advised Topix to change its policy on forcing customers to pay for priority review, as well as decrease the time it takes to remove abusive comments.
McClatchy, the parent company of the Herald-Leader, has been owner of an 11.25 percent stake in Topix since 2006.
The attorneys general from Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington have signed the Topix letter.