A new Louisiana law aimed at sex offenders mandates that they must identify their criminal status on Facebook and other social media sites. The lawmaker who signed the bill, which goes into effect Aug. 1, hopes that other states will consider similar procedures.
Sites such as Facebook and MySpace have been known to delete profiles of sex offenders, but Louisiana Rep. Jeff Thompson feels that this law should help cover any lapses. He worried about offenders who fly under the radar and lie about profile information to skirt Facebook’s delete key. States such as New York, Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois actually bar sex offenders from accessing social media websites. Thompson told CNN that with the ubiquitous nature of Facebook, this will help children and their parents be aware of online dangers:
It provides the same notice to persons in whose home you are injecting yourself via the Internet. 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.
Louisiana sex offenders who fail to put their status on their Facebook profile face stiff penalties. Violators could face prison time with hard labor ranging anywhere from two to 10 years without parole, as well as a fine up to $1,000. A second offense has a maximum penalty of five to 20 years in prison, with hard labor, and a fine of up to $3,000.
The bill, signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, expands upon current laws that state that sex offenders must notify immediate neighbors and a local school district of his or her criminal status.
A Facebook spokesperson wrote to CNN regarding the new law:
We take the safety and security of our users, especially the many young people on Facebook, very seriously. We have consistently supported legislation to help strengthen law enforcement’s ability to find, prosecute, and convict online sexual predators.
Readers: Do you think other states should follow Louisiana’s lead?
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