Under pressure from state attorneys general, the community news site Topix has stopped charging users a $19.99 fee to prioritize their requests to review allegedly abusive posts.
In a joint statement with 35 attorneys general, the Palo Alto, Calif-based company also said it will aim to examine and delete any such posts within three working days. The attorneys general did not allege that Topix's priority fee was illegal.
Topix CEO Chris Tolles said the company originally implemented the fee for faster review in order to manage the 28,000 pieces of user feedback received each month. "We thought it was a really good idea," Tolles said. Tolles added that when people didn't pay the fee for priority review, the site evaluated posts within a maximum of seven days from receiving a complaint. He said that Topix will explore new products or technologies that could enable a faster response to allegations of abusive posts.
In May, a group of attorneys general from states including Arkansas, Connecticut, and Kentucky asked Topix.com to stop charging for speedy reviews. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said at the time that an initial investigation showed that the "forums and polls" section of the site "is routinely used to post abusive or vulgar information, often about children, in blatant violation of Topix's terms of service."
Topix receives more than 125,000 user-created posts each day. Tolles said that many of the complaints it receives are from small business owners who don't like user-created posts about their companies.