Facebook and Myspace Kick Out Thousands of NY Sex Offenders

By Aline Reynolds | December 4, 2009 4:12 pm

facebook-webConvicted sex offenders living in New York can say goodbye to their social-networking privileges. The state has just booted 3,533 convicted sex offenders off MySpace and Facebook in an attempt to fight online sexual predators.

The purge was the first sweep of registered sex offenders under the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP), a 2008 law Attorney General Andrew Cuomo aggressively pushed [New York Daily News]. Those removed from Facebook and MySpace will be referred to their parole officers to determine if anyone violated the terms of their release by being on a social networking site. The e-STOP law bans those sex offenders whose victims were minors from joining social networking sites.

Under e-STOP, New York’s 30,000 convicted sex offenders are required to submit their home, e-mail, and social networking addresses to the state. Authorities say around 27 percent of that pool turned in email or social networking addresses, and only 10 percent of those held MySpace or Facebook accounts. Proponents of e-STOP say the first sweep is proof that the law is working. However, the law relies on the honor system, whereby criminals volunteer their social networking identities, as they are required to do within 10 days of creating a new account under penalty of new felony charges [Wired.com]. A representative from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services told the New York Daily News that the remaining 22,000 convicted sex offenders (who didn’t turn in email or Facebook addresses) are either in jail, homeless, or simply lack internet access.

The two popular social networking sites have felt pressure to remove convicted sex offenders from their sites, and appear to be yielding to those concerns. Back in February, MySpace revealed that over 90,000 registered sex offenders have been kicked off its site in the past two years [TechCrunch]. Many of those expelled may have simply moved over to Facebook. Of the 3,500 sex offenders removed during New York’s e-STOP sweep, 79 percent were on Facebook.

In addition to New York’s e-STOP law, Illinois law makes it a felony for sex offenders to register for social networking sites.

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Image: flickr / benstein

  • http://www.sohopefulny.org David

    This is a placebo law which is basically political hype.

    An article from CNET News contains this statement from Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer for MySpace parent company News Corp: “There are still zero cases reported of any registered sex offender who was booted off MySpace being prosecuted for illegal contact occurring on MySpace.”

    Besides, numerous studies have shown that over 90% of sex crimes committed both offline and online are committed by first time offenders who are not listed on any registry.

  • Uncle Hershel

    Isn’t this the same as double jeapordy? If you serve time, and fulfill your sentence, aren’t you a citizen again? What next, limit where offenders can live and own private property?

  • Kin

    Uncle Hershel, they are already limited. Cant live near elementary schools, ect

    And they have to inform their neighbors that they’re registered sex offenders.

    It’s a big screwy, but I don’t know how to react. I still don’t think it’s right to react purely on emotion.

  • Ryan

    But to say that these laws are not due justice simply because they are acting ‘purely on emotion’ is not really fair either. They are criminals, we deserve the peace of mind as a society to limit things such as where they live and what web sites they can go to, until we know that they have been further rehabilitated.

  • Ben

    It seems to me the problem is the broad definition of “sex offender” used on the registry. A 19 year old who has sex with his 17 year old girlfriend is guilty of statutory rape and could be put on sex offender registries, prevented from using social media, can’t live near schools, and in some places has to walk around the neighborhood letting everyone know he’s a sex offender when he moves in. Also a teenager texting an explicit photo of themselves to another teen is guilty of child pornography, a sex crime. This is both unfair and a waste of resources that could be spent on monitoring actual predators.

  • jim

    All the laws you could write can’t do a thing if the are not used. The article states ,,
    ” Of the 3,500 sex offenders removed during New York’s e-STOP sweep, 79 percent were on Facebook.
    In addition to New York’s e-STOP law, Illinois law makes it a felony for sex offenders to register for social networking sites.”
    You can’t be alive now without violating some law.

  • Toni

    Maybe they shouldn’t have had sex with that under age girl in the 1st place. They know it’s against the law don’t do it. It’s funny its all men that have commented on about this. How would you feel if ur daughter had a sex offender living next door to you? Because the chances they will offend again is pretty great. Their are too many Elizabeth Smarts and Jaycee Duggards that don’t have help endings and if we can do anything to save another child to go through that we should. If you don’t want to have the gov looking into your life don’t sleep with a underage girl and don’t make a girl have sex with you if she doesn’t want you too. It’s as easy as that just keep your pants on. :)

  • Uncle Hershel

    Toni, Elizabeth Smart was abducted by a couple. There are plenty of mollesting moms out there. Nobody should want any child to be harmed, we should do everything to protect them.

    As Ryan said, there’s a difference between a teenager dating a kid from his high school, and a recidivist predator. These knee jerk, feel good laws don’t serve our community or our constitution. We should spend more money on rehabilitation for all crimes, especially those that put children most at risk.

  • Angie

    That´s a smart move, but that´s not going to protect women/girls from first time offenders or offenders who were never convicted e.g. because they managed to threaten, constantly intimidate, or bribe their victims. At the same time, I do think it was a fine thing to do, so good on you for that.

  • http://wallzz.com/Celebrities/ free celebrity wallpapers

    I was actually a bit confused by all this, but thanks for taking the time to explain anyway. It was quite well written :)

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