Friday, January 3, 2014

OR - Sex offender refuses to talk about why he has prohibited Facebook page (Media Vigilantism)

Media vigilantism
Original Article

Must be a slow news day for the news media to show up at the probation office to harass ex-offenders coming in to register. Just because Facebook may have a policy doesn't mean the person cannot be on the site, but hey, sex sells, especially when you attack ex-sex offenders.

01/02/2014

By Anna Canzano

PORTLAND - His name is _____, and he's not exactly pleased to see us. He's showing up to check in with his probation officer downtown, ordered to appear because of what we found and shared with Multnomah County authorities.

I introduce myself and ask him why he's using Facebook when he's not supposed to, because he is a convicted sex offender. He accuses us of harassing him then flees from the camera.

At first glance, _____'s Facebook activity looks normal enough -- a normal profile, with some photos of _____ with family and friends. Among his “likes,” the bikini barista stand, Twin Perks Espresso.
The profile is linked to a company page called _____'s Marketing Solutions.

The problem with both of these pages? Convicted sex offenders are not allowed to use Facebook, according to the company's policies, and _____ was convicted of second-degree rape in 2002. He served nearly nine years in prison and has been on probation ever since. He’s also been ordered to do community service.

In May last year, _____'s probation officer learned he'd created a Facebook page for his company and told _____ to take it down. Multnomah County spokesman David Austin told me _____ complied. But here we are eight months later and _____ has not only a company Facebook page but also that personal profile.

I got a hold of _____ by phone earlier in the day Thursday. I wanted to know if he was aware of Facebook policy, if it was of concern to him, and whether there was some term of his supervision that prohibited him from using social media.

He told me, "I'm not at liberty to comment on a criminal record I may or may not have. I work for a company that manages a Facebook page."

Within an hour after we spoke, his personal profile had been changed. The personal photos were gone; it suddenly looked a lot more like his company page.

I contacted Multnomah County to learn the rules of his probation. That led to his required appearance downtown and Mr. _____ running away from us.

Late in the day, I was contacted via Facebook by someone alerting me to yet another Facebook page _____ apparently manages for a company called PhoneExchange. There are multiple photos of _____ on the page and multiple indications he runs the page. I'll be sharing this new information with Multnomah County.

Based on what I'd already told them, county spokesman David Austin says _____ will likely be punished with community service.

At last check, _____'s personal profile on Facebook has been removed entirely. The page for _____'s Marketing Solutions remains active, as does the page for PhoneExchange.

Facebook doesn't screen for sex offenders per se. It relies on users to report sex offenders to them and provide some kind of proof -- a news article, court documents -- to show someone's conviction for a sex crime.


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