Sex offenders: Your tweets (and LinkedIn and TimesPeople) are now a felony

Required qualifying statement: if you’re a sex offender, you’ve likelypossibly (as pointed out by Asim, a recent piece in The Economist suggests that sex criminals in the U.S. are often victims of our screwed-up laws) done something very bad, and of which I do not, in any way, approve. That said, I’m pretty sure you still have a few rights…

As reported in the Chicago Tribune today, social networking is now a felony for many Illinois residents:

One law taking effect Jan. 1 makes it a felony for registered sex offenders to use social networking sites, a move aimed at taking another step toward shutting down an avenue of contact between an offender and victim.


The bill
defines social networking as such:

13 		    (h) "Social networking website" means an Internet website
14 		containing profile web pages of the members of the website that
15 		include the names or nicknames of such members, photographs
16 		placed on the profile web pages by such members, or any other
17 		personal or personally identifying information about such
18 		members and links to other profile web pages on social
19 		networking websites of friends or associates of such members
20 		that can be accessed by other members or visitors to the
21 		website. A social networking website provides members of or
22 		visitors to such website the ability to leave messages or
23 		comments on the profile web page that are visible to all or
24 		some visitors to the profile web page and may also include a
25 		form of electronic mail for members of the social networking
26 		website.

Sure, it seems right to stop violent criminal perverts from poking around MySpace, but every damned site on the web is integrating social networking features nowadays. Is it offensive to the public interest if a sex offender shares an article on TimesPeople? What about LinkedIn? Do sex offenders not deserve a place to post their resume?

Or, what about a social network devoted to sex offenders trying to rehabilitate? If there isn’t a Ning for this already, there sure oughta be.

This is bad legislation. Sex criminals have rights too, and this law effectively bans them from the Web.

Wired Journalists: Study and share new journalism tech

Wired Journalists is a social network for journalists interested in talking about topics like blogging, video, and, well, social networks. They opened their doors to the public on January 22, and almost 2,000 wordy/nerdy types like myself have joined the site since.

I'm a member of: Wired Journalists

Co-founder Ryan Sholin told me this via email:

The key, the mission, the logic behind WJ is the goal of connecting the “wired” with the “not-so-wired-just-yet” to share stories, quell fears, and generally let newbies know that the water’s fine; they can come on in.

It’s built on Ning, a really neat site that makes building a home for an online community very simple.

Communities like this have deep roots in the free and open source software movement. They’re necessary gathering points for folks who are pushing the envelope and building their own tools. It’s great to see journalists getting into the game.

UPDATE: Swapped image in for nasty flash embedding.