Should Sex Offenders Be Allowed On Facebook?

The discussion goes beyond that initial repulsive reaction

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Should Sex Offenders Be Allowed On Facebook?
[ Social Media]

I am not a father. Because of this, I don’t possess the visceral, instinctual drive to protect my children at all costs. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m insensitive to the challenges of protecting kids both online and offline, it simply means that safeguarding a kid’s experience in any activity that they pursue is not always my first consideration.

Having said that, even I find myself giving a quick, visceral, instinctual response to this question: Should sex offenders be allowed on Facebook?

“Well, of course not.”

And I’m pretty sure that I’m nowhere near alone regarding this sentiment. I mean, let’s look at a brief history of bad people on the internet. You have your scammers, identity thieves, malware perpetuators, and online sexual predators – out there in a class of their own. Scum amongst scum, the wart on the pig’s ass when it comes to internet exploitation. Ever since the first guy sat down in the first chat room and typed “a/s/l,” the interwebs have been a place for those who were inclined to attempt to prey on the young and vulnerable. Of course, that’s only one side of the internet, a dark side – but it’s there.

Do sex offenders have a constitutional claim to use social media? Let us know what you think in the comments.

That’s why you would be hard-pressed to find someone to immediately jump to the defense of sex offenders when it comes to their social media aspirations. People convicted of sex crimes + a giant network of hundreds of millions of teens as young as 13 (officially) = obvious disaster. Any parent or even non-parent can see how the anonymity and broad reach of social networking form a dangerous playground for kids. And that’s before you populate it with convicted sex offenders.

And most people do agree with this position – at least legislatively. Many states have laws on the books that put an outright ban on registered sex offenders using social networks. Sometimes these laws extend to things like instant messaging services and the like. The laws vary in their scope and severity, for instance Illinois law says that sex offenders must “refrain from accessing or using and social networking website while on probation, parole, or mandatory supervised release.”

In the state of New York, registered sex offenders must report all of their internet accounts – that includes email, instant messaging, and social networking accounts. That info can then be handed over to the services, who may boot the offenders at their own discretion. NY state law also puts an outright ban on social networking for sex offenders convicted of a crime against a minor or one involving the internet.

The point is, laws are nuanced. But in the United States, it’s just plain difficult to Facebook if you’re on the sex offender registry. For years, state attorneys general have been pushing the issue, which has led to the purging of sex offenders from networks likes Facebook and MySpace. Just recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Operation: Game Over. That punnily-named initiative targeted another form of online social networking – game networks. In all, he announced that some high-profile companies likes Microsoft, Apple, E.A., and Disney had expunged over 3,500 registered sex offenders from platforms like Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network.

The thought behind this operation is the same as the thought behind any operation to remove sex offenders from popular online networks. As the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s John Walsh put it, “we know that sex offenders target and lure children and how they look at the online community as their private, perverted hunting ground.” It’s hard to argue that the internet and social networking in particular makes predation easier than ever.

And with an estimated 745,000 registered sex offenders nationwide, it seems like an open and shut case, right? For the safety of the children, we should do all we can to prevent sex offenders from Facebooking.

For many (most, I would venture), that closes it. But it’s not that simple for some sex offenders and civil right organizations. According to the AP, there’s a wave of challenges to state laws banning sex offenders’ use of social media, and the American Civil Liberties Union is stepping in to spearhead many of them.

One of these laws being challenged by the ACLU comes from Indiana. Their code states that “a person described in subsection who knowingly or intentionally uses a social networking web site; or an instant messaging or chat room program that the offender knows allows a person who is less than eighteen (18) years of age to access or use the web site or program commits a sex offender Internet offense, a Class A misdemeanor.”

“To broadly prohibit such a large group of persons from ever using these modern forms of communication is just something the First Amendment cannot tolerate,” said Ken Falk, legal director of Indiana’s ACLU chapter.

To civil liberties activists, it’s a free speech issue. No longer are Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks simply extras in a world dominated by more established forms of communication. Social networking has become such an integral part of our lives as a society, that to deny a subset of the population access to this ubiquitous method of communication is unconstitutional – a violation of the first amendment. They argue that even registered sex offenders have the right to participate in our collective online discussion.

Indiana isn’t the only state where these laws are under fire. And the ACLU might have some precedent in their pockets. Back in February, a Louisiana judge ruled that a state law banning sex offenders from participating in social networking was “unconstitutionally overbroad.”

He wrote in his opinion:

Although the act is intended to promote the legitimate and compelling state interest of protecting minors from internet predators, the near total ban on internet access imposed by the act unreasonably restricts many ordinary activities that have become important to everyday life in today’s world. The sweeping restrictions on the use of the internet for purposes completely unrelated to the activities sought to be banned by the Act impose severe and unwarranted restraints on constitutionally protected speech. More focused restriction that are narrowly tailored to address the specific conduct sought to be proscribed should be pursued.

As you can see, he leaves the door open for new legislation, albeit narrower legislation. The act that Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law in 2011 broadly banned “the using or accessing of social networking websites, chat rooms, and peer-to-peer networks by a person who is required to register as a sex offender [for violating statues involving minors].”

The judge’s decision invokes the same argument being championed by the ACLU – that these laws infringe on activities that have become so vital in today’s society. And when you think about it, the future may hold an even greater role for social media.

The free speech argument is strong enough to warrant consideration. Even so, it will be hard to sway public opinion on a topic that in so sensitive to so many people – the exploitation of children. Supporters of the strict no-social media laws need only reference cases like this to show why such laws are indeed necessary:

Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly describes the almost unbelievable web of deceit constructed by one online predator named William Ainsworth earlier this year:

“What we found was an intricate web of false Facebook identities that were used to establish online relationships with vulnerable girls, who were then manipulated into sending nude photos to Ainsworth – believing he was a young surfer living in Florida – or physically meeting Ainsworth for sex – under the impression that those sexual encounters would help raise money so the girls could run away to Florida to be with their new online friend.”

Here’s how I broke down the sickeningly detailed scam in an earlier article about the case:

First, he created two fake Facebook profiles – Bill Cano and Anthony “Riip” Navari. He built up both profiles by creating a network of friends with people in the greater Pittsburgh area. Both of his characters were young surfers who had dropped out of high school and ran away to Florida. He supposedly bolstered the believability of his characters by taking images from around the internet.

Apparently, he amassed over 600 friends between the two fake profiles.

He then used Bill Cano to make contact with young girls. Once he had manipulated them by gaining their trust over a period of time, he would get them to send him nude and sexually explicit photos.

But that wasn’t enough. Here’s where the story takes an even darker turn.

Once Ainsworth had established a community of girls that cared about Bill Cano, he killed him off. Then comes “Rip” Navari, who swooped in posing to be Bill’s step-brother or best friend. He told the girls that Bill had been attacked and killed. It’s pretty easy to see how young girls could get wrapped up in all of this.

Ainsworth then put a third fake character into play, named Glenn Keefer. Keefer’s profile said that he was a “Sugardaddy looking for Sugarbabies,” living in the Pittsburgh area. Ainsworth used Rip to introduce the girls to Keefer. The story was that if they stripped or performed sex acts with Keefer, then he would give money to Rip so that Rip could help the girls fly down to Florida to be with him.

All in all, Ainsworth’s web tangled up 7 victims from the ages of 13-15. Five of those girls ended up sending nude photos and he actually met with two of them (posing as Keefer) for the purposes of sex.

It’s a story like that that makes people feel strongly about this issue. It’s also the reason why it’s so difficult to write laws that strike a balance between safety and personal liberty.

Even if the sex offenders and the civil liberties groups find success in challenging the state laws, they still could run into another roadblock. That’s because Facebook specifically prohibits convicted sex offenders from enjoying membership on their site.

Facebook unequivocally states:

Convicted sex offenders are prohibited from using Facebook. Once we are able to verify a user’s status as a sex offender, we immediately disable their account and remove their account and all information associated with it.

Facebook users are tasked with helping to rid the network of the sex offenders. They can provide Facebook with links to the violating user’s sex offender registry listing, a news article about the crime, or even a court document. Any of those articles of proof can get a registered offender banned.

From the side of protecting kids, it’s a no-brainer. Inarguably, social media sites like Facebook can be used as that “playground for online predators.” We’ve seen it happen on numerous occasions. In terms of safety, there are really no arguments against banning registered sex offenders from these sites.

On the side of free speech and constitutionality, it gets a bit trickier for some. Not everyone can agree that there are first amendment implications with this issue, and even the ones that do will find it hard to get past the simple fact that kids are much safer online without former (and current) sexual predators lurking around their Timelines.

What do you think? Is there a first amendment contradiction within these no-social media laws? Is it fair to ban an entire group from participating in something that’s such an integral part to modern life? Even if it’s unfair, should it matter? Does committing a sex crime against a child make you forfeit the fairness argument? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Should Sex Offenders Be Allowed On Facebook?
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  • http://www.boomajoom.com Brandon

    The laws are written by a government that doesn’t understand the internet. Social is a feature, not a destination. Banning sex offenders from “social networks” effectively bans them from the internet. A lot of people have no problem with that position, but consider a few things:

    1. Many companies require applicants to apply for jobs online in order to be considered. Banning sex offenders prevents them from finding work which leaves them less invested in being functional members of society. They will reoffend because they have nothing to lose.

    2. Prison is supposed to rehabilitate people. If it isn’t working, then there’s a flaw with the justice system. If there’s a flaw with the justice system, I’d imagine that same system probably convicts the innocent, lets the guilty walk free, etc, etc. If your system is screwy, it can’t be trusted so you’re effectively banning people who could be innocent but were wrongly convicted. If the system does work, then previously convicted sex offenders should be way safer than anyone else in society since they’ve been rehabilitated whereas current predators haven’t been caught yet.

    3. Most instances of abuse occur from someone in the family. So while you think you’re keeping your daughter safe from Creeper McCreeperson on Facebook, you don’t ever stop to consider that she’s being molested by her older brother when you’re not home.

    In terms of safety, there are plenty of arguments against banning sex offenders – namely that you’re handicapping their ability to function in society. A lot of people who are abused as children grow up confused and scared of that abuse and continue the circle of violence. Some never learn, but it’s patently ridiculous to cripple a victim’s ability to function in society forever even if they figure out their past and repent for their actions. Sex offenders already can’t live in most cities – let’s make them all homeless, unemployed, and desperate. See what happens – it won’t take them long to figure out that they at least feed you in prison.

    • Spamexterminator

      Exactly. I like to add I can see it from both sides of the issue. Lets just say I know someone that knows someone who is a sex offender. Anyways that person committed a lewd act with their younger sister when this person was 16 and this person is now 37 Years old and has been a good person every since. They have made amends and they get along pretty well. Yet everyday this person is still being punished for the crime. No one will hire this person, this person has to pay new fines every so often because the laws change making it a crime not to pay again and again for the same crime. Then they pull this banning from places on the internet where does it end, When is it enough, How many times must a person Pay for their crimes before they have paid enough. I also noticed that the Sex Offender Registry only contains enough Information to piss people off by telling the Victims Age at the time of the Crime but posts the Sex Offenders Current age Making it look like they just did got released. But I also believe if the person used the Internet to do this they not only should be banned from social networks but from the internet all together. It’s kinda like handing an alcoholic a beer, Not only will it be overly tempting but the likely hood of the predator doing it again is extremely high and after being incarcerated they may learn how to get away with it or atleast long enough to have several victims.

    • Barbara

      Having been a child who was a victim, at a time when such crimes were not believed to exist, and having lived with the “perp” for years afterward, I have a slightly different feeling about this issue. He never did anything again, because his wife had reins so tightly on him that he couldn’t be 4 minutes late getting home, and he didn’t go anywhere without her. I give her a lot of kudos, but her tension and anger and feelings of guilt were destructive in our whole family for years.

      I was one who completely sympathized with the boys in California who killed their mother and father gruesomely. She had to die. I totally understood why they felt that way, even though I had healed, and had become good friends with my own mother.

      My point is that if a child is a victim, it is because we haven’t noticed how vulnerable our children are and haven’t given them the tools to (1) tell an adult “no” (2) protect themselves (3) feel loved so much that they don’t search for it from strangers. There are many other things that go into it. But basically, we are becoming a lazy bunch of people, wanting to not have to actively care for our children. If our kids are spending a lot of time on the internet, and we aren’t sitting right beside them, then we must take at least 50% of the blame if they become victims.

      Trying to make enough rules and regulations that somehow the “laws” will be enough to keep our children safe, is just unrealistic. Not to mention lazy.

      • Anonie Mous

        First, the residivism rate is 100 percent for Child Molestors. Thank about that for a moment.

        Or two.

        I know we cannot legislate morality, but this is immorality and amorality. We cannot “cure” it, but we can punish it. And we MUST. Something that is entirely the child’s, as anadult, as a husband or wife, as a girlfriend or boyfriend, etc. is stolen, and it is one thing that WE as individuals, even children own in a way that we can own nothing else: our bodies.

        • Michael

          No, its not 100%, its 3% based upon DOJ-BJS studies.

  • Craig angell

    No, in fact they should be chemically castrated after first conviction with numerous checks. If they dont comply they should be put in jail till a cure is found. Let the punishment trully fit the crime.

    • David

      You’re full of crap! You’re just being ignorant. I know a person who was 20 when he was involved with a girl that was 16. He went to prison for 10 years, and the rest of his life is ruined. Now, that person is married to his so-called ‘victim’ and they have 3 kids together, both very happy. Now you can sit there and tell me that this man should be castrated?? You want to sit there and say that type of punishment fits the crime?

      This is the problem with the whole thing: You get people like the guy I know lumped in with the old dirty men who molested a 7 year old. There needs to be categories and they need to be treated differently. 30 years ago older men were sleeping with underage girls every day, and it was overlooked. Nowadays people are just ignorant to the facts and they think they know everything, just like Craig.

      The law,as well as people in general, need to stop being so ignorant and look at things in a different perspective. And those of you who are pointing fingers… stop and think: Have you EVER slept with an underage person? What about in high school when you turned 18? How about in college? There are PLENTY of people who have done this, yet they are not thought of as sex offenders. They don’t look at themselves as sex offenders. And they are many of the one’s who are standing up yelling to castrate them. Well if you’ve have relations with an underage person, even if you were 18 and the person was 17, you committed a sex crime… and we should castrate you as well.

      The whole system isn’t fair. You people need to get a grip!

    • Michael

      Does no one read anymore?

      Sex inhibitors only work if the person keeps taking the drug.

  • Mick Courcier

    Our society is too quick to give extended human rights to the criminal at the expense of the victim. Surely we should be protecting the needs of society above those who prey on it for their own benefit, sick-minded perverts or not.

    There is no way on this Earth we should give proven sex offenders the right to trawl social media sites to find and groom their next victim. It’s like giving them the keys to a sweet shop and saying, “Help yourself!”

    It’s about time we all took a stand against these sick violators and got a semblance of balance and justice back into our society. it’s like the say, “Stand for something, or fall for everything!”

    • Barbara Weaver

      I was 13 when I learned what sexual perversion was. I am now 66. I disagree with you. “Proven” sex offenders includes kids of 18 who had sex with their girlfriends of 17, and kids of 13 who had sex with their older girlfriends who just didn’t happen to be 18 yet. People who do spend the next 40 years of their lives without giving in to their base instincts. I do not find these “sex offender” titles to be acceptably chosen. IF “sex offender” meant sexual predator, then I might agree with you.

      We don´t need more laws to protect us. We need to get smarter parents. Protect your children by noticing!

      All these years later, I am of the belief that the best thing we can do for our children is to teach them how to be cautious of and loving toward our selves. What happened to me wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t been taught never to say no to an adult, or if I’d been taught how to believe in myself. And if a child is vulnerable on the internet, it is because parents are careless or not noticing the child’s vulnerability, or that they aren´t teaching them to be able to trust either their own instincts or to trust that their parents can be reached out to. I´m not convinced they can, myself.

      As a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent, I absolutely see the many, many ways we may leave our children exposed. And I forgive each and every one of those parents, because we are in fact human and are not all-knowing (or sometimes even sometimes very perspective).

      Making this issue be all about the ¨sick violaters¨ is just not acceptable. I know from too many personal experiences, that parents would rather put blame on an outsider. But having a traumatic experience as a child can mean that his or her entire adult life may become far more than might other have occurred.

      And if it doesn´t, I blame the parents. Who are so busy blaming the perps that they still won´t wake up and become better parents to children that remain vulnerable.

  • Steve Kinney

    To believe this is a “real” issue, you first have to believe that “sex offenders” are stereotypical Chester The Molester types and constantly cooking up schemes to rape and dismember children. Never mind the large number of “sex offenders” who were busted for urinating on the wrong tree when they thought nobody was around, and similar trumped up indecent exposure charges that had nothing to do with actual “flashing”. Or the 18 year olds who were having legal consensual sex with their 17 year old girlfriends right up to their birthday, when her parents decided to bounce him right out of her life. Etc.

    Then you have to believe that the real Chester types are both so clever and devious that they are a clear and present danger to the community, and at the same time, that they are too stupid to even think of using an alias to create a Facebook account to further their criminal agenda. Rest assured, EVERY truly dangerous “sex offender” who decides to troll for victims on Facebook is using a false name or “borrowing” someone else’s account.

    And finally, the one justifiable concern: Be afraid, very afraid, because people pay no attention to their kids, teach them nothing about personal safety on or off the network, and often do not know where they are or who they are with. I call this a “justifiable” concern because it does happen way too often in real life. And when it does happen, that small fraction of “sex offenders” who really are the Chester The Molester type get a chance to do some real damage – with or without “social media” as an enabling factor.

    Teaching people to believe that their children are in imminent danger every time they sit in front of a computer screen is an important, long term propaganda agenda. This agenda is pushed forward by those who want 100% surveillance of a locked down Internet where “everything not mandatory is forbidden.” The supposed “Constitutional rights” of people who have been rightly or wrongly branded as “sex offenders” is not an issue, it is a hollow excuse to wave a red flag in people’s faces for the 500th time. By now everyone who can be brainwashed by this kind of idiocy has been, and the rest of us are tired of hearing about it.

    • Barbara Weaver

      Well put, Steve. I know people who are having to register as sex offenders because when they were 18, they had sex with their 17-yr-old girlfriend. I find it inexcusable to not differentiate between this kind of thing and “sex offenses”. I even know a boy who at 13 raped his 15-yr-old sister, who will forever be a “sex offender”. I wouldn’t ever have been surprised if she hadn’t created the issue, but he will forever pay for it.

    • Hello?

      “Stranger danger!”

      The majority of those who have molested a child are family members of that child — parents [who make up 32% to 39.7%], bothers, sisters… and even Uncle Steve. “Barbara” below spoke of an account as a child where she had lived with the abuser for years.

      Over 53% of child pornographers are family members. Parents make up approx. 29%, other family members approx. 24%. Family friends make up approx. 23%.

      As stated below, 3.3% of all child molesters, 5%, or as high as 12% [depending on the study], of all sex offenders re-offend. A DOJ study found 43% of released sex offenders commit subsequent crimes OF SOME KIND [not necessarily another sex crime], compared with a 68% recidivism rate for other criminals.

      You, or your child, are 32 X’s more likely to be a victim of a violent crime than a sex crime.

      The kidnapping, rape and murder of children is rare.

      Abuse is not on the incline, we just hear about it more because of 24-hour news cycles and the Internet.

      Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Vermont are just some of the states that makes public urination a sex crime — oddly enough, public urination takes place in public bathrooms everyday where very young children see plenty [think about that].

      The Constitution applies to everyone. If you don’t like that, move to another country.

      @Brandon – the number of people wrongfully convicted is estimate to be 10% yearly —

      As a parent, it is MY job to police my child. Not Barbara Weaver, Steve Kinney or my states legislature. Parents of a children approached on the Internet don’t use any common sense. The Internet is used like the TV was when I was a child — its the babysitter. You have to ask yourself, would you let your 11, 12, 13 or 14-year-old go willy-nilly to another city or state, at any time of day or night, any time he or she wants? The Internet is worldwide, you don’t just let your child troll around it aimlessly. If you do, and something happens, you are the first person I would point the finger at. You are just as culpable as the sex offender you allowed to contact your child.

      The problem with Steve Kinney, Barbara Weaver and others like them is they have what I call Nancy Grace Disorder [NGD]. They LOVE to hear themselves talk regardless of their lack of knowledge on the subject. They repeat all the scare tactics, incorrect data, and make up the rest as they go along. You don’t have to like child molesters to educate yourself on the subject. Its all a part of being a responsible adult and parent. Stop being reactive and become proactive.

    • Deb

      You have hit the ‘nail on the head’…exactly!

  • Larry Hurwitz

    As a parent of x4 kids, and in the business of geo-tracking, I cannot and will not ever endorse allowing sex offenders to ever have access to any social network service. There is no educated rational that could ever convince me to think likewise.

    • Deb

      who is the ‘sex offender’??? how do you know??? ‘the list’ is flawed…LESS THAN 5% actually belong on that ‘list’…the ‘system’ is flawed.
      And what about OUR (‘We The People’) constitutional rights??

      They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.~ Ben Franklin

  • http://www.wemenology.com Reuel

    Social networking is an ideal hideout for anyone who has ulterior motives, in other words people who are scumbags who like to catch people by tricking them into a trap because they have no developed people skills with the people who they presently know. I know several sex offenders on FB, and we all do, if you say you dont, you lie or you dont use FB at all. THe only way you dont know one of these people is if you live in a monastry and then I would question that! Everyone has a lesser or greater appetite for sex, but once its done through subtle conniving means, and under age youths, you should be convicted or banned! Thanks for the post!

  • Dan Herbert

    To me, such ideas simply help line the pockets of attorneys who spend countless dollars developing laws that are nearly impossible to enforce. Legislating sex offenders from using social networks is like legislating bank robbers from possessing a gun. They will just do it anyway whether it is legal or not.

    • Steve Kinney

      Moar true words were never spoke.

      I have done some work for psychologists who in turn work for the criminal justice system. This has given me something of an inside perspective. Molesters 101:

      * The large majority are family members or friends of adult family members. Most of them are never reported to law enforcement.

      * Real predators often date, “live with” or even marry single mothers with the “right kind of” children.

      * The most dangerous predators do not stalk children on the Internet, they stalk them at theme parks, shopping malls, day care centers and facilities like public pools. They are fast, efficient, hard to catch, and thank God they are very rare.

      Another thing to remember about a “sex offender” who is in the community: His (or, rarely, her) case has been closely examined and in the opinion of a Judge advised by prosecutors and forensic psychologists, they do not pose enough risk to the community to justify the cost of locking them up. The “worst of” the offenders never leave State custody.

  • http://www.generalopinions.com Just my opinion

    Whether they have the right, legal or ethical, to use social media it would prove most difficult to keep such people off of social media. It would be quite easy not to get caught. My point being that it would be ideal that they weren’t there due to obvious issues, however it is difficult to enforce such a decree.

  • RSO

    The majority (well over 90%) of all new sex offenses are committed by people who are not “registered sex offenders.” Facebook is rife with child porn produced by people who are not listed as “sex offenders.” And people, I hate to tell you this, but almost all of you (pver 99%) have done something sometime in your life that could have gotten you arrested and labeled a sex offender. Only difference between you and me is I got caught doing something and you didn’t.

  • Lisa Simpkins

    NO,I am a child advocate for the Polly Klaus Foundation and protect children from these demented individuals.They should not be allowed to have a public profile anywhere online..and if so,they should have a public notice banner for those who visit their profiles.

    • Tom Sweatt

      @Lisa, I’m a child advocate also and you don’t know what you’re talking about. Perhaps we should put banners on public profiles of drug users and drunk drivers or even politiicians (that’s a good one!). Labels are bigoted attempts to make us feel better about our pathetic lives. You’re a “child advocate”. Well so am I and he or she is a “sex offender”. Well here’s a new label to consider… WE ARE ALL “AMERICANS”!

  • http://disdroid.co.uk In Times Of Universal Deceit

    It’s all well and good saying that they should not be allowed on the internet, and of course, people are commenting with the usual spiel of how they should be dealt with, but the facts are that catching and convicting offenders is very difficult; how can such laws about the internet ever be enforced? Solutions such as facebook, and the internet as a whole, were not built with this issue in mind; how does one prove that a given individual has used the internet at a given time? Impossible.
    The only answer that I can see is to create a service that provides monitoring at the client side, containing ‘tripwires’ that cause the client computer to immediately disconnect from the internet, and issues a warning to the authorities. The service would have to be built in to ALL client software, including browsers and instant messengers, because traffic passing through at the network level could easily bypass such a system using SSL encryption.
    This software would be very complex, but I do believe it is possible to create a satisfactory solution, in the same way that we nowadays defend against malicious software and spam.

  • Kevin

    The problem with this, or any other law relating to sex offenders, is that there is no differentation between types of offence. A guy that has sex with his girlfriend who is only a year yonger, where the age difference spans that magically age of consent, is lumped into the same category as a child molester who violently raped a 6-year-old

    Having said that, I build and sell parental control software and have seen some insane stuff

  • Jake Sommers

    This idea of banning anyone from social networks goes against what freedoms our country was founded on. How can you say what one would or could do? We make ourselves feel better by blaming others for our fears like terrorism on Islam people, crime on blacks, AIDS on homosexuals, joblessness on illegal immigrants, and sex offenses on registered sex offenders. Why not blame our inability to pay the mortgage on the banks that we signed a mortgage promise to pay? Wake up people! Take responsibility for your own life and teach your children as any good parent should. Parading around RSO’s and naming senseless laws after dead kids aren’t going to solve the problem. I have five kids and the minute I rely on the government or facebook to save them from potential danger is when I lose the ability to call myself a responsible parent. My kids aren’t allowed to have a facebook account until age 13. Are yours? Even then I teach them how to be safe on the web and have a close relationship with them so they can talk to me about anything.

    Further, I know people who are former sex offenders who have families just like you and me. Why should they be stifled from their family and friends if they are using the internet and social networks legitimately. This idea that all sex offenders are using social networks and internet looking for victims is like saying that all people who believe in Islam are terrorists. What will happen when you ban RSO’s from social networks and the problem doesn’t go away? The politician still got reelected after duping you into believing this crap and you still live in fear.

    Don’t be led around like sheep who can’t think for themselves. Use your brain and understand that the rights of others that you want to take away today may very well be the same rights you or your children lose tomorrow. It’s time to be responsible for our own family and quit worrying about what someone you don’t know is doing because it’s still the USA where we all live in freedom. Let’s learn from history lest it repeat itself and we become the next target. I respect all of your opinions and thank you for letting me comment.

    • Deb


  • B Jones

    I am a father, but I do not believe that everyone that has broken some law on sexual matters is a pervert or someone who will abuse another person in any way. What was acceptable years ago is no longer. Some people have been convicted of crimes they did 40 or 50 years ago even though their record has been clean and honourable since. Of choice I do not want to socialize with anyone who maliciously exploits anyone; child, adult, pensioner, male or female but where do you stop.

  • http://evrn.net/ Howard Crane

    Oh what a load of beautiful nonsense… it’s pretty simple: Facebook don’t allow you to identify yourself other than yourself… Friend circles aren’t rings of iron, but they’re all pretty insular.
    You people are all crazy, this problem is nowhere near as big OR challenging. You know who’s preying on the children? All of us, every single one of us. At least when it’s sexual abuse you can chuck someone in prison for it. Children are leeches in training to leech on their own children as we did them – that’s the behaviour that leads to paedophilia, not the reverse.

  • Stephane

    Personally the question should be. Should Facebook delete all children under 18 accounts on Facebook?

    If I recall the rule of signing up for Facebook account is that you need to be 18.

    Yes No sex offender should have Facebook accounts and also access to the Internet in my book. However this would be easy for the US that has a sex offender registry. But here in Canada no such list is available to the public.

    However I would like to point out that the problem would be easily fixed with a Law that would force Internet providers to Ban certain IP address from our country.

    We are all aware that China, Norway, Russia and many African countries are the source to many frauds, child porn sites and illegal sites. Yes government are trying attacking the users that uses these sites but this is very costly to the taxes payer. The responsibility should be given to the service providers that make millions with these products. In my books they have a responsibility to protect us clients from any source of illegal activity by blocking the source.

    Yes Internet should stay confidential and no government should be authorized to spy with out any proof and proper legal request.

    Malicious Internet Activity The Top 10 Countries


  • Deb

    Well said, Brandon!
    Steve: most of what you say is true (except for the MASS Entrapment/sting operations going on now & filling up the system)

    The problem is how do you actually KNOW WHO the sex offenders are these days…with the MASSIVE sting operations ENTRAPPING MASSIVE amounts of people, the sex offender list is huge and growing. And I’m all for protecting our children; I (safely) raised 4 children myself. But there was some kind of study or something done stating that LESS THAN 5% of the people on the sex offender list actually belong on there. Our constitutional rights are being trampled and our freedoms are being pulled right out from under us (and a lot of people don’t even see it). So no, I don’t think the question is whether or not to allow alleged sex offenders on facebook. The whole issue of ‘sex offenders’ is getting WAY OUT OF HAND…and with that problem…EVERYONE’S rights are stake.

  • Ron Glick

    Facebook is a company, not a government entity. It is subject to the constitution, just as every other company is in the world. And for them or any other company or person to treat any group of people differently than another is called invidious discrimination and is in direct violation of the 14th Amendment. Regardless of whatever personal opinions you have against sex offenders, first and foremost they are people and citizens, and they are entitled to the same constitutional liberties as everyone else.

    Only a government entity can rescend constitutional liberties as punishment for a crime, and then only if there is a causal relationship to the offense. The problem is, there is so much misinformation out there – and deliberately so – that people automatically assume that anyone branded with the term is an online predator, and that they are the worst of the worst for reoffending.

    How many people out there know that sex offenders are actually the lowest percentage of reoffenders in the country according to the US Dept of Justice? How many people know you can be listed as a sex offender for urinating in an alley? And how many sex offenders are listed as such for having sexual relations with someone under 18, when every single other country in the world – and even our own country up to roughly fifty years ago – recognizes age of consent as the age of puberty, ie, 12 or 13?

    Let’s face it – our children are going to have sex. If not with themselves, then with someone older. I challenge one person out there reading this to say that they were never had a crush on an older man or woman while going through adolescence, and I would wager a great number of you had actual sexual relationships with older people yourselves. Did you think it was a crime to be attracted to someone older, or want to be with that person intimately? Of course not – because that’s basic biology.

    Society shames us into pursuing certain age groups, but basic psychology tells us that the base human animal seeks a mate who is mature and stable in life – not some fellow flighty teenager.

    So why is it a crime? And why is someone who pees in an alley being banned from Facebook or other social media? And let’s face it – if they are going to ban people for illegal conduct, what about the millions of fake accounts used every single day to solicit money or other scandalous fraud schemes? Why is noone cracking down on these scam artists?

    If the government wants to impose penalties upon individuals who have been found guilty of specifically predatorizing underage people online, go for it. But Facebook has no legal right to do so. If they wish to lobby for a law tht gives them authority to ban offenders who have specifically used social media sites to commit crimes, let it be for *any* crime related to abuse of the social media sites, not just sex offenders.

    That is my opinion, anyways.

    • Deb

      Yep…I agree with you…
      one would think that people would be evolving…but doesn’t seem to be the case. People are not thinking for themselves, they are allowing the media to cause hysteria and allowing the ‘system’ to trample on our rights.

  • rmharrington

    To me, Facebook is a time waster that I would not engage in even if I were a sex offender authorized to use the toy. But the issue here envolves much more than guilt or lack thereoff. It envolves a system that wants to establish multiple levels of punishment for people who have already paid the legal price of their actions.

    Ben Franklin said it best: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    The truth is simple. Take away any one person’s freedoms based upon what you think they may or maynot do, and you will, in no long time, be called upon to give up your own freedom as well.

  • Connie Steinbergq

    Allowing sex offenders on facebook would be the same as allowing then at schools of school events ; anywhere they would be allowed unlimited access to kids.

  • chaos

    This is something that just irks me to the core. When a supposed person who is dishing out an uninformed position to the masses with no regard for the actual truth of the state and federal blunder regarding sex crimes. I have to say something.

    1. The term you are using “sex offender” can range from horrific acts of abuse against children to a person that was drunk and decided to pee in a public area or an exotic dancer being too obscene. This is a factor differs widely for state to state.
    2. When speaking about sex offenders you should tailor your remarks about depraved individuals who are classified as pedophiles rather than using the all encompassing term of “sex offender”

    It is in my opinion as a father of 3 daughters totally irresponsible to put people that were convicted of a sex crime not related to children in the same class of a someone at age 19 having consensual relations with someone that is considered a minor by the law which differs in most states.

    By the current statutes Jerry Lee Lewis would be a sex offender too. But do not take my statements as defending a child molester by any means.

    If you were a responsible writer and did proper research you would be aware of the injustice placed upon persons who are convicted of a sexual crime, regardless of the actual charge or case, the debt that they paid or the life that they have established decades later only to be lumped into a specific depraved category with child molesters making it a struggle for them to be a member of society. When a murderer is released from prison after their probation/parole requirements are met they are not required to register and have the public notified of their presence.

    This is not only a fraud committed on the public but an injustice to persons that at one time in their life made a grave error, paid the price and yet are not able to move on with their lives.

    Your article is proof of this. Because the headline or excerpt had shock value and was bound to garner fear and attention. You put every person that is required to register as a sex offender, regardless of there actual crime in the same light to the public as a child molester. In my opinion that is wrong. We have a justice system that I keep much faith in to protect the public and punish the guilty in place to keep us safe.

    This is a moral injustice in the least and complete misinformation to your readers at most. To publish an article that does nothing to help the public but only to push it further into the unending fear and turmoil that have plagued the 21st century.

    If your discussion was concise to alert the public about convicted child molesters who freely participate on social media sites without any sort of monitoring by authorities then I would be singing your praises. But statistically the authorities do not have the resources to monitor all “sex offenders” but I am sure if you were less general in your labels and gave your readers a specific criteria to petition their legislators about then you would be arming them with a true direction and helping to change the discussion from a large diverse group of criminals to a specific and smaller group giving the legislators and authorities something that can be handled on the smaller budgets allotted them yearly.

    My personal opinion is that a convicted child molester after release from prison should be monitored as closely as possible regarding all aspects of communication that gives them access either physically or virtually to a child. This is a manageable task to be requested of our protectors the police.

    This is something that I cannot stomach in this day and age of rapidly available information. Your statement is like saying all Muslims are terrorists in my opinion. Or that every person of the Islamic faith wants war.

    In the future be more informed and write an article that will inform and educate people to take action not a piece to grab headlines.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/josh-wolford Josh Wolford

      Unless I missed something, I don’t think I took a “position.” Nor did I ever say that all people that are forced to register as sex offenders do so because they all committed the same crime. I mentioned that the laws are nuanced, for example New York state putting and “outright ban on social networking for sex offenders convicted of a crime against a minor or one involving the internet. Being on the sex offender registry doesn’t necessarily mean that you committed one of the more depraved acts, but the fact remains that you can wind up on the registry for the lesser acts. The article takes no position on people on the sex offender registry, it merely poses a question about whether they should be allowed to use social media websites. It’s a debate about free speech, not an indictment of convicted sex offenders. It’s not an article about the injustices of the sex offender registry, but one about Facebook use after a person winds up on one. I’m not lumping the crime of public urination in with child rape, although the law might.

      • chaos

        The mere headline you chose says “sex offenders” not child molesters. Then your article focuses on the child molesters and does not give a balanced stand point for the discussion about free speech to all registered sex offenders but focuses on the specific of child molesters…

        That is why your article has prompted me to actually respond.

        If your article was to invoke a discussion then I am open to hearing why instead of focusing on the one group of sex offenders that should not be interacting with children but the multitudes of others placed on it for far lesser crimes and how after paying their debt to society and have since lived a productive life the affect it would be to them.

        That is the true debate of freedom of speech.

        Sorry a child molester statistically has a 75% chance of committing another crime so limiting their access to children is diligent.

        But my main point is using the label of “sex offender” to categorize a sub-group pertaining to crimes against minors.

      • Deb

        Yep, the law is whack. And people end up on ‘the list’ that did not even commit an act of any sort.
        We need to start standing up for OUR freedoms…as a people…before we lose all of our freedom.
        Banning anyone from facebook…or whatever is just a step away from losing our freedom of speech…then what comes next…

  • David Beasley

    At first glance I would have to agree that a social network is nowhere for a sexual predator. Notice I did not say sexual offender. Until Megan’s Law came into being, sexual offenders were NOT all looked at under the same microscope. Once that law took affect, every person that was tried and convicted of any kind of sexual crime was a baby raper.
    Case in point. I will only use a hypothetical instance to keep from hurting anyone. We will say that a boy with a job comes home from working one and falls asleep on his bed in his own house. He awakes to find a girl he knows in his bed with him and nature is taking it’s course. Unbeknownst to the boy, the girl is not of legal age by two weeks. The father finds out about the problem and has the boy arrested for Statutory Rape. Now during the trial, the girl is put on the stand and not only admits that she is the one who initiated it with the boy, but three other boys the same night. The judge tries to get the father to relent, but to no avail. The boy is convicted of a sex crime. Along comes Megan’s Law and all sex offenders are thrown into the same pot. That boy is now as bad as the man that would take a five year old girl and abuse her in ways most of us cannot imagine.
    Think about this, is it fair to throw that boy into the same frying pan as the man? NO! And yet millions of people do that every day because they go online and find out the boy is a sex offender and NEVER read what the actual crime is. In their self rightous attitudes, they convict the boy right along with the man, never stopping to think that this woman’s husband could have been convicted if he had been caught. Or this girl did the same kind of thing when she was 14 or 15 to get back at her father, but the father never prosecuted. Truth be known, there is a large number of males that are guilty of being with underage females during mutual consent sex that have never been caught. So is it justifyable to lump one boy in with a REAL sexual predator? NO.
    Should the SEXUAL PREDATORS be kicked off of social networks? YES! But lets start with distiguishing between a real sexual predator and someone who was caught do what many others aren’t. Don’t make the kid with raging hormones that has a girlfriend underaged but willing to relieve him carry the same stigma as child rapist. Because he will carry that for the rest of his life, whether he go to prison or just gets probation. By the way, the above story is true. Not about me, but about a kid I know.

    • Tom Masen

      I agree 100%. My father was convicted of sexually molesting me as a child. This was instigated by my mother who was having an affair at the time and I, while old enough to remember and know that nothing ever ever happened like that, was not old enough at the time to convince anyone that the fabricated evidence my twisted mother concocted was false.

      One of my co-workers son’s is having similar issues at the moment. He was 18 and in high school and he was dating a 16 year old sophomore. They had been dating for 2 years. Once they began having consensual sex though her parents did everything they could to ruin that boy’s (although legally an adult) life.

      Believe me I 1000% agree we should be protecting our children from sexual predators, but if we burn an X in their forehead what’s next? Why don’t we cut off the feet of everyone who get’s a speeding ticket.

      • Tom Sweatt

        @Mr. Mason, Thanks for putting a human face on this. People need to let things go after a period of time and move on so everyone is better off. Redemption heals!

    • Deb

      exactly…this whole ‘sex offender’ vs ‘sex predator’ thing has gotten WAY OUT OF HAND. SO MANY people are lumped in and punished as if they were a child predator and so many ‘blind’ people are wanting to crucify everyone without knowing any facts. WAKE UP PEOPLE. We are ALL being manipulated by the ‘system’so that they can easily take away our freedoms…heck so many are practically handing over our freedoms…Wake UP!

  • dave

    I think, while we are trying to protect our children (grandchildren) we must be thoughtful and not react knee jerk. There are many, many people on the sex offender roles that are NOT the typical type or sex predator we think of while we’re watching Nancy Grace talk about children taken. Their are many boys that got catch having sex with their slightly under age girls friends maybe he just turned 18 and she was still 17 and he was placed on the sex offender list. There are type or classified types of sex offenders. The ones we need to monitor are the real predators. And most the pedophiles that are mentally sick and can only go after the young.
    The men we need to keep off of any social media network where our children are engaged talking with friends, are the ones that have taken children before. Remember not all of them kill their victims, but many do. We need to reform the sex offender listing process to make it easier for the local police to monitor these people. Remember this too, like it or not. If someone has paid their debt to society for some criminal act, then they are released. We can’t continue to punish them forever. We need to place harder sentencing on these types of crimes and maybe not release the truly dangerous ones back into our society in the first place.

    • Deb

      but how do you know who the ‘truly dangerous’ ones are when law enforcement is staging stings and entrapping people that are NOT pedophiles?
      seems the true pedophiles are not easy to catch…they are quietly befriending our kids…not answering ADULT personal ads…and A LOT of people being put on ‘the list’ were not trolling for kids and are NOT child predators…
      actually when you think about it…lawn enforcement has become the predator.
      parents need to take responsibility for their children..monitor their children’s activities online…keep a diligent eye on who is paying attention to their children…follow their ‘gut’…stop looking to the government or someone else to protect you and you children…the government is too messed up these days anyways…
      WE (parents, grandparents,etc) need to protect and watch over our children…enough of our freedoms are already being taken away…stop trying to so freely give more of our freedoms away

  • http://www.procalisxonline.info Two Way Thinking

    One side of me says they should be banned while the other says they have rights too to use the internet. If they have been punished for sex related crime then they are no longer considered offenders unless they do it again.

  • http://www.unitedinjustice.org jim boyd

    If the perception were true that sex offenders had a 90% or better recidivism rate, I might agree. The truth, is vastly different. Here are some verified study results: California Department of Corrections (10 year study) – 3.38% re-offense rate; U.S. Department of Justice – 5.5%; American Psychological Association – 9.9%, etc. Every legitimate study done in the past 15 years shows a re-offense rate of less than 10%. See my website for more info.

    • Hello?

      The issue is, because the sexual abuse of a child is so heinous, most don’t want to believe that a wife beater is more likely to re-offend than a sex offender is. Which is why we as a society let men beat women and get away.

      • Tom Sweatt

        Amen to that! drug dealers and murderers live better than that

    • Deb

      I glanced at your site and I will look at it further shortly. But what about the 95% of the people on the sex offender list that are not actually sex offenders??
      And with the rampant, overzealous sex sting operations going on that list is growing by leaps and bounds…so it ends up that the people that have ‘keep an eye’ on and ‘monitor’ those people are wasting time monitoring people that are no danger (& have never been a danger)to ANYONE and the ones we fear (the true predators) are still out there befriending children, hanging out where children hang out…and going about their crimes ‘unnoticed’…and from what I’ve read…most children are preyed upon by people that they personally know.

  • http://yahoo.com Margaret

    No, by ALL means no!!!! Look< I do not have kids. BUT, if i did, I would NOT want them looking up that trash on Facebook.

    • Tom Sweatt

      @Margaret, There is a lot worse trash on Facebook than RSO’s.

  • Dorsey White

    No they should have no rights to Facebook. Let Facebook be family oriented.

    • Hello?

      Molestation is normally kept in the family.

  • Jack Browder

    Sex offenders shouldn’t be able use air (breathe). Get my drift?

  • Eva

    No. Period.

  • Evelyn

    Should sharks be allowed in kids’ swimming pools?

  • Rene

    Castration will be the best and only Solution

    • Deb Mac

      No it is not, since the brain is the place that stimulates the thoughts of attraction. Guys without Viagra still “think” about sex and can act upon it without erection. Objects unfortunately could become a substitute for these people.

  • Evelyn

    …actually, beyond the sharks in the pool answer, as an ex child protection social worker who has seen close hand the effects of sexual abuse … & the thinking of abusers, they are addicts. To give them access to vulnerable children is like taking a recovering alcoholic to the pub for a game of pool. The question is actually an oxy moron. These characters, unless they have had intensive therapy to look at their own behaviour and their own abuse issues (as 9 times out of 10 they’ve been sexually abused themselves), they are not safe around kids period.

    • Deb Mac

      Correct. It is sometimes a mental illness. Thank you

  • http://www.mabuzi.com Kevin

    I thought FB was a gaint database which collected your data and watched your every move? So if you can watch them I assumed that would be pro-active. When the predator is underground you cannot watch his moves.

    As you can see from the above responses it makes no difference where the predator is, he existed pre-face book days.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone


  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    I think that child protection laws should also cover online profiles. I think if they want an online profile that existing laws should require these sex offenders to have to publish that they are a sex offender. If the laws are changed to require that, then you won’t have to worry about sex offenders being able to even look at children’s profiles as the social sites would block them and children trying to look at sex offender profiles would see that person is a sex offender and not to contact them. I still think children should be able to see the profile, simply because if that person contacted them in real life they can look them up and see they are a sex offender and know to stay away and contact the police about it if that child felt threatened in any way from that encounter.

  • Alex

    Asking if sex offenders should be allowed to use social media sites, is like asking if it should be allowed to go to the grocery store, or use public transit. I think the rules to using social media should be more strict when it comes to minors using such sites.

  • http://www.oncefallen.com/ oncefallendotcom

    The man who began this who fiasco about banning certain people from the internet in the first place was a man who ran for President in 2008 and admitted he doesn’t email or even “turn on a computer.” So is there any wonder the government doesn’t understand why social networking bans can never truly be narrowly defined.

    Even if they limit it to say, a blanket Facebook ban, the state prevents the person from legit FB-related activity, like commenting on the growing number of media outlets using FB-only commenting, or entering contests, or even (gasp!) monitoring their own children’s online activities. Guess what? Registered citizens do have children.

    Another point of contention is the assumption if you are on the list you will be online trolling for kids. These articles use anecdotal examples. I could pick a random rare event that does happen like, say, people getting struck by lightning, and find a few anecdotal examples of some guy getting fried by standing under a lightning rod or something and Voila, instant epidemic. Right now is “flesh eating bacteria panic’ week. We know there are a FEW cases out there. A FEW. In a nation of 320 MILLION people.

    These bans are popular because it makes people feel safe. But reality is different. In the article, some guy make FAKE PROFILES. No law can prevent that. We don’t want to hear we can do nothing about it. Since 95% of s*x crimes are committed by those with no prior s*x offense record, banning registered persons will have no impact on those few cases of online predation.

    The few studies on this subject have found a few things. First, few lie about their age. Second, most solicitations are flirts by same age group peers. Three, the number of offline meets are minuscule. We have been fed lies by the Dateline NBC show, who created the myth of “50,000 online predators” and was caught in the lie. This is called the ‘Goldilocks number.”

  • http://gocabrera.com Adrian

    Since you can create a “False Identity” on Facebook, or any other social media site for that matter, does anyone seriously believe that any legislation is going to stop someone from continuing to use this means of contact with underage kids if they really want to?

    Parents need to assume greater responsibility for what their children do or view on line. There are plenty of parental controls available and anyone whose child has a Facebook profile should monitor their activities at least until they are of an age where they are mature enough to not need oversight.

  • http://www.grow-sun.com Tom Hargrave

    I’m probably more qualified to comment on this than most of you. Why? Because one of my brother’s is a sex offender, he was caught with MY kids, and we helped put him away for 30 years. He comes up for parole next year and will likely be released after serving 15 years of his sentence. He claims he no longer has the issues he had but who knows? He will not be aloowed around my grandkids “in case”.

    I’ve learned a lot about pedophiles – they are wired differently. A pedophile is mich like a alcoholic, both are additions. Should a reformed alcoholic be allowed to drive a car? Of course they should be allowed to drive.

    Another point to ponder is for every convicted & registered sex offender there are 5 more loose on the street. In other words, passing laws to keep sex offenders off of social media is a total waste of time. And for those convicted offenders like my brother, what’s to stop him from setting up a account that authenticates to a hotmail or other free email account? Nothing.

    Only you are responsible for your children. Expecting the Government to step in and provide any level of protection agains sex offenders is kind of like believing the Easter Bunny delivers multi-colored hard boiled eggs once a year!

    The sex offender registry is a great tool but it’s also useless unless you also read the details of the offender’s conviction. Why? Let me give you a real life example. Years ago a lady knocked on my door – she wanted me to sign a petition to remove two offenders from my neighborhood. I told her I don’t sign petitions without doing my homework. It turns out that one of the offenders got involved with his 15 year old step-daughter and he was currently 82 years old – not much of a threat to me or to my kids. The second offender was caught with child porn on his PC & nothing else. While I agree that child porn is morally wrong I don’t believe that this level of crime should carry a lifetime “sex offender” penalty. And my point? The lady with the petition only was sex offenders and wanted them out of her neighborhood, a neighborhood where they had a legal right to live. And I doubt they provided any risk to her two daughters.

  • Jacob

    Should sex offenders be allowed to use facebook? Are they allowed to own a house or go out in public? Of course they can, and they should be allowed to use facebook and other social networking sites as well.

    I can understand the concern about sexual predators, but banning them from the use of social networking sites is absurd and unconstitutional; not only that, but it is also completely and utterly pointless. As has been re-iterated several times already, most sex crimes are committed by people without prior offenses. Moreover, even if someone is listed on the sex offender’s registry there is pretty much NOTHING that can prevent someone from making an e-mail account under a fake name and using that to make another, completely unrestricted social networking account. I think of the Ainsworth story above and I’ll tell you right now that if that man really wanted to he could do it again and nobody would know it ’til he gets arrested and imprisoned again.

    My point is that “new” offenders have no restrictions on their accounts in the first place since they’re not yet registered offenders, while even registered offenders have plenty of relatively easy ways to get around such restrictions. Of course, some offenders will be willing to accept their stigma and refrain from the use of such sites, but others, I have no doubt, will seek ways to regain their network access; the catch being that they cannot use their own name or an e-mail address known to be associated with them… not a difficult obstacle at all. Honestly, if I was a parent, which I’m not, I would rather those predators be on social networking sites under their own name so people have a way of knowing who they are (but that still doesn’t mean they don’t have three more accounts under other names).

    Now, just how easy is it for someone to make a “fake” account? Let me tell you, if I wanted to, I could go set up a gmail account right now under the fake name “Johnny McBride” then proceed to make a facebook account for “Johnny” and there you go. Twenty minutes, tops. Sound kinda scary? Well I wouldn’t expect this to change anytime soon, and honestly I don’t think it should have to. With more and more problems cropping up on the internet, I think that people need the ability to gain some anonymity occasionally, but that’s getting off track.

    So I think what it comes down to for me is as follows:
    Parents, friend your kids on facebook and actually CHECK who they’re in contact with. Sure they may not appreciate their parents “spying” on them… but that’s what parents are SUPPOSED to do. Sure it’s not a 100% certain method, but such a method does not exist no matter how much people may wish to believe otherwise. So parents, do your parenting and stop relying on the government so much; I’ll guarantee that watching your kids yourself is FAR more effective than any method used by the government or social networking sites will ever be.

  • kenneth burns

    Facebook is a privately owned media outlet,it is up to them who they let use it. Unlike in an election where you must give each candidate equal time,the only equal time a sex offender should get is to be voted off the island . There are too many kids on Facebook to allow this,there are also vunerable adults on Facebook. Facebook should have the right to protect all it’s subscribers from sexual predators.

    • Deb Mac

      Well put. Private owned companies have the right to refuse service to anyone as long as it is not sex, race or religiously discriminated.

  • Scott

    Approximately 60% of boys and 80% of girls who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child’s family (Lieb, Quinsey, and Berliner, 1998). Relatives, friends, baby-sitters, persons in positions of authority over the child, or persons who supervise children are more likely than strangers to commit a sexual assault.
    It is noteworthy that recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population. For example, one study of 108,580 non-sex criminals released from prisons in 11 states in 1983 found that nearly 63% were rearrested for a non-sexual felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of their release from incarceration; 47% were reconvicted; and 41% were ultimately returned to prison or jail (Bureau of Justice Statistics). Persons who commit sex offenses are not a homogeneous group, but instead fall into several different categories. As a result, research has identified significant differences in reoffense patterns from one category to another. Looking at reconviction rates alone, one large-scale analysis (Hanson and Bussiere, 1998) reported the following differences:
    child molesters had a 13% reconviction rate for sexual offenses
    rapists had a 19% reconviction rate for sexual offenses
    A 2002 study by the United States Department of Justice indicated that recidivism rates among sex offenders was 5.3 percent; that is, about 1 in 19 of released sex offenders were later arrested for another sex crime.

    These statistics show that the hysteria over sex offenders in general is not based in fact. hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year administering laws to restrict the freedom of convicted sex offenders, but 18 out of 19 do not re-offend, so we are really spending that money to ensure that 1 out of 19 is caught after re-offending. Those who wish to re-offend will not follow the laws to begin with. In fact, the more stringent registry and residency laws push convicted offenders underground, making them a greater threat. For those parents who have a serious concern about sex offenders, please search the registries that exist, and show the pictures to your children. Teach them about not talking to strangers, including ones online. If a parent does not know the person in real life, the child should not be communicating with them online. An uninvolved parent is the greatest risk factor for a child, not who else is out in cyberspace. The fact is, that facebook has been integrated into major parts of our cultural and informational landscape. In fact, many News Sites require a facebook account to comment on their articles. So banning anyone from facebook, effectively bans them from the national discourse on major issues. A clear first amendment issue. I will add that people should be careful about deciding that one class or another deserves to have their freedoms restricted or taken away, because it is a slippery slope. Ben Franklin said it best, “Those who would willingly sacrifice freedoms for security deserve neither freedom, nor security, and will lose both.” A God given right cannot be restricted by government, as it was not granted by that government. The right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of movement are inalienable, which means they cannot be infringed by government or man justly. If an offense is committed, the person is tried and sentenced to jail, prison or probation, along with the specific requirements of their punishment and rehabilitation. Any law put into affect after that is an ex-postfacto law, which is unconstitutional if it restricts freedom of movement, association or speech, which these laws clearly would. To apply them to future sex offenders as a condition of sentencing would be okay, to apply them backwards would not be. Lastly, as others have noted, sex offender has become a very broad term. If a law should be targeted towards child molesters, then target it towards them, if it should be for those who have shown a predeliction for re-offending then target it there. If for those on parole or probation, make it a condition of that supervision (Which it is almost universally), but once supervision is over, restrictions should be as well, since that person has been deemed to have served their sentence and is technically rehabilitated under the law.

    • Deb

      Well said, Scott. People need to stop the hysteria and think for themselves; take responsibility for themselves (& their children). The media is so biased. The ‘system’ is a mess. Law Enforcement is out of control.
      Amen! Amen! Amen! (Ben Franklin said it best, “Those who would willingly sacrifice freedoms for security deserve neither freedom, nor security, and will lose both.”)

  • https://torproject.org ANON

    In the United States that would be against the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and a lot of other constitutions. Y

  • https://torproject.org ANON

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment to the United States Constitution

    • Deb Mac

      This is not relevant to being allowed online.

  • https://torproject.org ANON

    “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution

    • Jacob

      Exactly why such bans are not only unnecessary, but are downright wrong. They did their time, now let them get back to living their life.

    • Deb Mac

      Since when is no Facebook considered cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. Maybe letting them on would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

  • Moe

    There are many different types of sex offenders roaming around. Unless it is written into their license regarding the use of the Internet, they are free to join any social media website. Look at the logistics of enforcing no use of social media sites…………first are they known as most sex offenders live happily in your street you do not know. Most of them have never been caught so are not known, and if they have been convicted of Internet related grooming and so on there are restrictions. placed upon them, and this will not stop themMost use alias names so who will be sifting through members names to verify if they are sex offenders?

  • http://spicefm.co.uk mr ali

    in a word no. as a dad myself, it poses to much temptation for those with no phycological distinction between children and adults. Sick beasts.

    • Jacob

      This is, of course, assuming that all sexual convicts are at least 20 years old and that their conviction was against someone under the age of 18… that’s not the real numbers. Not all “sex offenders” are pedophiles.

  • MissW

    NO!!! being a victim my abuser abused me and his own 2 children. He is now a step-grandad lives near a secondary school and has a profile on Facebook (thats justice for you!!) it makes me sick to the stomach just writing this. I contacted the police when i saw him on Facebook and they said to me they have no issues with him having a Facebook (the officer i spoke to made me feel like i was the offender not him) despite Facebook T&C’s saying sex offenders are not allowed an account and you have to agree to these terms when creating your account he isnt doing anything wrong. He has friends on there that post pictures of their children and she said to me it up to them what they post on there, true yes but when my abuser is then seeing these pictures of children in night wear or half naked in paddling pools etc. When he went to jail for the abuse he told everyone that he had beaten someone up and thats why he got put away. I tried to report him on Facebook but you need to obtain proof from the sex offenders register which unless i pay a fortune you cannot get access too. I know of another sex offender that is not allowed anywhere near children or to see his grandson, yet my uncle seems to be able to live back in society like he did nothing wrong and do what he wants, thats justice for you they will probably get thier own way anyway :-(

    • Deb Mac

      I too am a survivor of sexual abuse. I don’t think criminals should have “right’ of freedom when they choose to commit acts that incarcerate them. They are not allowed to vote so why should they be allowed to interact on social networks? They can have access to educational information and news; social networks are not a necessity, they chose to be anti-social with their crime.
      While it is true some cases involved dating a minor within a 5 year age range caused a conviction, Michigan has taken legislation to fix that Your conviction is not a register for life. Life registration is for higher or multiple convictions, You either register for 25 years or life.
      States have an open registry of sex offenders by federal law it is FREE to access. Check with your state police for information. Also… Not all offenders register the truth as to address, they are then in violation of the registry laws and can be re-incarcerated for this.
      Good luck to you, please go for counseling to help deal with the anger and pain. It is difficult to move on as a survivor without it. I never condone the abuse but for myself I forgave my father. I just never saw him again until his funeral, I was not his only victim but apparently the only one to seek justice. I was 10 years old when he raped me.

      • Deb

        but not all of the people on the sex offender list are the people we are concerned about…less than 5% of the people on the list actually belong on the list…

  • Dennis

    Keep the laptops in a place where parents can see them and take more notice of what kids are doing would also help…..

  • Tom

    I don’t think kids should be allowed on social networks, they are not in a position to give consent for effectively signing away their personal details in perpetuity.

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