Facebook focus of sex predator probe

NEW YORK - Connecticut investigators are looking into "three or more" cases of convicted sex offenders who had registered on Facebook, a fast-growing social networking website, the New York Times says.

State investigators had "also found inappropriate images and content" on the service, the Times reported, citing Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

The inquiry continues and officials have asked Facebook to remove the profiles, the paper reported.

Representatives from Facebook and the attorney general's office were not immediately available.

But the Times cited Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer, as saying he was not familiar with the Connecticut investigation but the company had received "a number" of such reports and usually takes down such profiles within 72 hours.

"We want to be a good partner to the states in attempting to address this societal problem," the paper quoted Kelly as saying. "We've worked with them for quite some time now, and we look forward to continuing our fruitful partnership."

Earlier this month, MySpace, another popular internet social network, said it detected and deleted 29,000 convicted sex offenders on its service, more than four times the figure it had initially reported.

MySpace, which is owned by media conglomerate News Corp., said in May it had deleted about 7,000 user profiles that belonged to convicted offenders. MySpace attracts about 60 million unique visitors monthly in the United States.

As of May, there were about 600,000 registered sex offenders in the United States.

"There is no question that Facebook is encountering some of the same problems that MySpace has posed," the Times quoted Blumenthal as saying. "They should be held accountable, and we intend to do so."

- REUTERS

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