Facebook tells all, and soon, the popular social media network will tell even more.
Louisiana lawmakers passed a new law requiring sex offenders and child predators to list their criminal status on Facebook and other social media websites.
The New York Daily News Reports:
While Facebook already bans registered sex offenders from creating accounts, State Rep. Jeff Thompson, who authored the legislation, says the new law will help ensure no one slips through the cracks.
“I don’t want to leave [it] in the hands of social network[s] or Facebook administrators. ‘Gee, I hope someone is telling the truth,’” Thompson, an attorney and father of two, told CNN. “This is another tool for prosecutors.”
The new law goes into effect August 1. Thompson says it’s the first of its kind in the nation, and hopes other states will follow suit.
Several already require sex offenders and child predators to register their email addresses and social network profiles with authorities, but Louisiana is the first to require they explicitly list their crimes on their profile pages.
The law mandates that child predators and sex offenders “shall include in his profile for the networking website an indication that he is a sex offender or child predator and shall include notice of the crime for which he was convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of his physical characteristics … and his residential address”.
Thompson says he drafted the legislation last year after a federal court rejected a different Louisiana law that totally banned sex offenders and child predators from using the Internet. He says the new law will help keep children safe.
I challenge you today to walk down the street to see how many people and children are checking Pinterest, Instagram and other social networking sites. If you look at how common it is, that’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week for somebody to interact with your children and your grandchildren.
Facebook agrees with the law, telling CNN: “We have consistently supported legislation to help strengthen law enforcement’s ability to find, prosecute and convict online sexual predators.”
It will be interesting to see if this law catches on in other states considering the increased usage of social media and the internet in general by young children. Right now, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act prohibits children under the age of 13 from using sites such as Facebook. However, shrewd kids, parents and older siblings or friends circumvent those rules and Consumer Reports says nearly 7.5 million children under the age of 13 are currently using Facebook. Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has said he’d like to challenge the law and find a way to legally allow children under 13 to access the site.
Of course, sexual offenders can be a threat to people well over the age of 13 and it doesn’t hurt to know who you’re talking to online. However, what’s the point of letting a person out of prison if he’s going to have to wear his crime like a banner for the rest of his life? I don’t want some sicko trying to contact me or anyone else, but if he is utilizing Facebook in a way that has nothing to do with his crime, it seems excessive to require him to list it. I can see where they’re trying to going with this law but is there anyone who is actually going to list this information on his social media page? Probably not.
If Louisiana can find a way to enforce this law, it seems they have just found a way to effectively discourage sexual offenders from using Facebook. If not, it’s just more useless legislation.
What do you think about this law? Should sex offenders be required to disclose their criminal history on social media?
Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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