Sites owned by Yahoo, AOL, and Google have joined Facebook and MySpace in expelling New York sex offenders from their rolls.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that Google's Orkut.com, AOL's Bebo.com, and Yahoo's Flickr.com are among 13 additional social-networking sites to use sex offender data available through New York's Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (E-Stop) to find and disable accounts associated with registered sex offenders.
Other companies that have agreed to cooperate include BlackPlanet.com, Classmates.com, Flixster.com, Fotolog.com, hi5.com, MyLife.com, Stickam.com, and Tagged.com.
There are still some holdouts. Cuomo called on other sites, including Friendster.com, Buzznet.com, eSpin.com, Habbo.com, and LiveJournal.com, "to commit to using the list." He urged parents and children to consider not using sites that haven't complied.
On December 1, Facebook and MySpace deleted the accounts of more than 3,500 sex offenders based on the New York law.
By comparing this data with their own user roles, Facebook was able to identify and delete 2,782 registered sex offenders. MySpace deleted 1,796 accounts.
In addition to deleting the accounts of any known registered sex offenders, the companies will turn over information about the accounts to law enforcement officials.
In a statement, Cuomo said: "It is no secret that sexual predators abuse social networking websites to find and manipulate victims and to insinuate themselves into their victims' lives."
The E-Stop law, which was passed in 2008, requires registered sex offenders from New York to disclose their online identities to officials. Information must include e-mail addresses, instant-messaging screen names and social-networking account names. The law also requires the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services to release state sex offender Internet identifiers to social-networking sites and other online services so that they can prescreen or remove individuals who match the list. It also imposes restrictions on sex offender's use of the Internet if the victim was a minor and if the Internet was used to commit the crime. Restrictions include banning the offender from social-networking sites, as well as prohibiting access to online pornography or communicating with anyone with the intention of promoting sexual relations with a minor.
Cuomo is one of several state attorneys general who have expressed concerns about the danger of Internet predators. In 2008, Cuomo and 48 other attorneys general entered into an agreement with MySpace that resulted in the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, whose report concluded that the actual threat of predators is less than many had feared and that kids are far more likely to be harmed by bullying and harassment from other youth. I served on that task force as a representative of ConnectSafley.org, a nonprofit Internet safety organization I help operate.