By Sharon Ko
MEDFORD, Ore. — More than 90% of teenagers are on social media websites like Facebook or Twitter; it’s a fact that police say sexual predators are well aware of.
Lawmakers are pushing to stop those Internet predators one-step at a time. Facebook already monitors account users, and anyone who comes up as a sexual offender is taken off the site, but some authorities say that’s not enough.
Local law enforcement officials are taking notice of a new law in Louisiana; starting in August, that state will require registered sex offenders to list their criminal status on any social media profile, which crime they were convicted of and where they were convicted.
It’s a way to better alert people, especially vulnerable kids about who they are interacting with online. The law will also require offenders to submit e-mail addresses to authorities, which is not a requirement in Oregon. Local officials say it’s a step in the right direction but may prove difficult to track.
“There’s no doubt that sexual predators use the Internet to try and find kids to victimize so any extra protection that children online can have is a good thing,” says Josephine County Deputy District Attorney, Ryan Mulkins.
“Depending on how that information is captured, there’s going to be some sort of communication between the social networking site and law enforcement and sort of have a list,” says The Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force detective, Brandon Bloomfield.
Louisiana is the first state in the nation to require this law. As of May 31st of this year, there are over 18,000 sex offenders in Oregon. In Josephine County, there are over 400; in Jackson County, there are over 1,000.