ALBANY << NEW YORK ATTY GENERAL’S OFFICE >> New York Attorney General Removes 3500 Sex Offenders From Facebook and MySpace.
In a major crackdown on Internet predators through the eSTOP Act, more than 3,500 convicted New York sex fiends have been booted from two online social networking sites, sources told the Daily News. The perverts were kicked off Facebook and MySpace in 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. “This should really be a wakeup call for everybody, whether it’s parents watching what their kids do online, and all the law enforcement groups and authorities, and the sites themselves,” one source familiar of the mass Facebook and MySpace purges said.
Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center, said the fact thousands of offenders were dumped proves the law is working. “Before e-STOP sexual predators freely lurked in social networking sites trolling for innocent victims,” she said. “With e-STOP, Attorney General Cuomo has sent a clear message that there is a new sheriff in the cyberworld protecting our most vulnerable.”
Among the major findings of the first sweep:
– Those kicked off Facebook and MySpace in recent weeks include a man convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy, another who raped a 2-year-old girl, and a third convicted of sexual misconduct against a 10-year-old girl, sources said.
– Of the 3,533 offenders booted from the sites, 659 were from New York City and 328 from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties.
– MySpace disabled a total of 1,975 accounts linked to 1,796 New York sex offenders over the past few weeks, the sources said.
– Facebook disabled 3,410 accounts linked to 2,782 offenders. There’s overlap because some 1,045 registered sex offenders signed up with both sites.
– Of the 8,106 registered sex offenders who reported their online information to the state, 43.5% were either on the Facebook or MySpace networking sites, sources familiar with the situation said. Under e-STOP, convicted sex offenders forced to register with the state must provide home addresses, e-mail addresses, site usernames, and online profiles as well. State officials made the information available in the past two months to the social networking sites that want them. Cuomo wants other networking sites to follow the lead of My-Space and Facebook.
The names of those booted have been sent to the state Division of Parole, which will determine if any of the offenders violated their early release provisions by being on the social networking sites, the sources said. Out of the nearly 30,000 registered sex offenders in the state, 8,106 have supplied their e-mail addresses and other online information, the state Division of Criminal Justice Services said. The rest either are back in prison, homeless, don’t have computer access, or didn’t respond, a DCJS spokesman said.
Sex offenders have 10 days to notify the state after creating new online profiles or face prosecution for a new felony. Cuomo’s office wouldn’t comment yesterday, but last year, after the legislation was signed into law, Cuomo noted that “the playground of today is not just on the streetcorner . . . the playground of today is cyberspace.”