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Topix – A One-Stop Website for News, Job Postings, and Drug Deals?

| February 24, 2011 | Comments (21)
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Image topix_logo_006 It’s been about a month and a half since Amanda Bennett killed herself and her three children. But before committing the tragic murder/suicide she posted comments on an Internet forum site called Topix.com. There, Amanda talked about her divorce and the hardship that her family was facing as a result. Anonymous users on Topix left a string of comments blaming Amanda for the divorce, which eventually led to one final post from her: “Now it’s time to take the pain away”.

Topix, which is mainly a news site, has gained popularity in small towns, especially in Kentucky. The site doesn’t require users to register in order to comment or start a conversation, so the comment threads are riddled with everything from spam to local gossip.  I’ve had several people message me requesting that I check out the site, saying that it was one of the worst when it came to cyberbullying, and after only an hour on the site, I have no doubt that they’re right.

Twenty minutes into checking out the site, I stumbled upon forums where people were discussing topics like “any horny married women around this town?”, a poll about the cutest 9th grade girl at TVHS (an obvious recipe for cyberbullying), and resources for those interested in buying methadone.

Parents, feel free to add Topix.com to your list of blocked sites. There’s a good chance that kids won’t end up on this site as it’s more appealing to an adult audience, but let’s not to take those chances.

In the end I can’t help feeling as though the operators of this site are living under a rock, considering all the news in mainstream media about cyberbullying and online predation. Or do they not care to make their site safer for their users? Topix disguises itself as a professional news resource, but the deeper you dig, you start to see just how gritty and dark the conversations can get. Nonetheless, Topix is a perfect example showing how the Internet can bring out the best in people, and the worst.

Let’s keep our kids safe online—I always remind parents to click six, seven, eight pages deep into any website that their kids visit. It’s an easy way to understand the culture, content and type of people that await your child in a particular site. And more importantly, it’s an easy way for you to decide if the site is right for them. Also, continue to talk with your kids. It may seem like they don’t listen sometimes, but they hear us. And if they know that you know what’s going on online, they’ll be even more inclined to listen.

There are probably hundreds of these sites out there, so if you know of any that are similar to Topix, please, leave a comment to share with other readers.

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Category: Cyberbullying

Comments (21)

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  1. I have been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never
    found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

  2. Katharyn says:

    I would like to see this article and information about Topix updated. I have grown familiar with this evil, evil site after friends were attacked. The only way to try and get them to remove anything is to go on their sick website and use their feedback. No big surprise when the libel has continued to stay on the website. I read on a Facebook page and I am not trying to badmouth the man, but the CEO of Topix said “Speech is normally more important than the victim.” That says it all for me. When it is libel, defamation or something else illegal then speech is NOT more important than the victim especially private citizens.

  3. Stef says:

    I am convinced Topix is the worst site on the internet. I understand there is no way to stop cowardly bullying entirely, but they do absolutely nothing. I have had friends attacked on there and reported it to them through their joke of a feedback and it was never removed. I next tried to call them and of course the number said their mailbox was full. I tried for days, so I suspect it is never checked or there are so many complaints it falls on deaf ears. I debated emailing the CEO of Topix but from what I understand if he does respond it is usually to justify how immoral Topix is and to criticize the person who has emailed him. Topix crosses a line and then some. To me, it has no redeeming qualities and shows how far our country has fallen.

  4. I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here and say Topix is neither good nor bad in itself…it’s the USERS who make it so. Any website can be used to bully or engage in illegal activity. All this talk of “parents’ organizations” is disgusting. What “parents” need to do is teach their kids right and wrong; and more importantly self esteem! There aren’t enough content filters in the world to shield your precious babies from all the dangers of the real world, of which Topix is only a microcosm. While you’re busy blogging and petitioning, you could be spending time with your child teaching him/her to make good decisions on his OWN. But no. It’s much easier to blame your child’s pain or bad behavior on the internet, rap music, violent video games, the schools, the drugs, “cyberbullying” (gag me) and any other buzzword that comes along.
    If your kids are not intelligent and moral enough to know better than to engage in this crazy online madness, they have no business using a computer or leaving the house.

  5. aza says:

    TOPIX.COM the latest site for drug dealers and drug buyers, as I’ve read. It superceeeded Craigslist.

  6. john says:

    i agree totaly with you on this as i myself has been targetted by an ex claiming to be a drug dealer which is so untrue!!

  7. Chelsea says:

    Topix doesn’t understand with speech comes responsibility. That site needs to make some serious changes because it has managed to destroy just about every community it touches and to the original poster of the article, yes kids use it unfortunately.

  8. Thank you for this article. Media and parent organizations are gradually becoming aware of the destructive force of Topix unmoderated anonymous forums.
    However, Topix has done nothing to move towards reform. Although they no longer are known for being a news aggregator but for being a destination for libel, abuse and cyber bullying they continue along unchanged, defending their constitutional right to shield abusive internet abusers.
    The question is, once we are all aware of the issue, how are we going to change it since Topix refuses to act ethically of their own volition. I believe that Topix knows that eventually there will be no trust or confidence left in them and they are just milking their current profit until it crashes down on them.
    We need to get the word out but we need lawmakers to please take notice.

  9. Lee says:

    You would not believe the amount of damage that site has done in my community and many of the attacks are on kids. Parents pay close attention. More kids use it then you think.

  10. Blake says:

    There is no defense for the Topix website and I am going to respectfully disagree with the writer of the article in one area. More and more kids are using Topix. In fact, I have heard it said that many use it as their own kind of “slambook.” If you look at many of the forums it is attacks on teenagers so it is growing in popularity among the teenage crowd and the reason is simple. Topix takes no pride in their site. It is just one attack after another and what they do is aggregate a handful of actual newsstories to try and justify the fact they are a gossip site. The appeal of that site is because it is one of the easiest cyberbullying sites on the internet to bully someone. They have next to no moderators and don’t require any kind of registration process so you can attack within a few seconds. That site is becoming a real problem and Topix is now claiming they even want to enter the political arena from what I understand. Can you imagine a site like that doing political commentary? All it will take is for someone like the guy who killed all those people to post something on a site like Topix, and people encourage him or her to injure innocent people. The site is that bad.

  11. Bray says:

    Hi Mary Kay,
    Sorry for a second post but I wanted to respond to what Deb in NY had to say. Actually research was done and it is even worse than you thought. Topix does indeed have around 30 employees, but not all 30 are moderators. The company has stated a grand total of 5 are moderators meaning, it isn’t even 30 people, which would not be nearly enough even if that was accurate, to moderate over 400,000 forums. In past interviews I discovered, they used to state “20 percent of their staff moderate.” On the surface that may seem okay to those that don’t know, but we are talking 20 percent of a staff of roughly 30 people. What we have got to do is find a way to get some big time press coverage. Topix is dangerous.

  12. Mary Kay says:

    Hi Renee,
    I just added the Share This button to the entire blog, so feel free to hover over that and choose the Facebook button. Thanks!

  13. Mary Kay says:

    Renee,
    Not sure what’s going on with the link for you. You should be able to just copy and paste the URL into facebook.
    The only thing I can think of in regards to “YouTube” would be the image that comes up when you post the link in fb–the YouTube image comes from my blog sidebar. All you have to do is click the little arrow on the fb post to change the image to the Topix logo.
    Hope that helps!

  14. renee says:

    I think this is a really valuable topic. I posted it on my FB but it came up as a phony Youtube link. which misleads my readers. Do you have another way to FB link this?

  15. Parents, Mental Health Worker and educations unite! We have to stop bullying in all forms. Bullying is devastating our children and teens and will effect them the rest of their lives.
    In today’s world, it is harder and harder and we must find good solutions.

  16. Deb in NY says:

    Topix or toxictopix as lots of people call it lately is indeed TOXIC. The founder Chris Tolles refuses to moderate the local forums. He hides behind freedom of speech. But freedom of speech doenst include cyberbullying, defamation of character, slander or libel. For the daily MILLIONS of users/poster he has approximately 30 moderators. Having posts removed is next to impossible, a staff that size cant possibly moderate millions of daily posts. You can give feedback about abuse on the forums but posts still are never removed.
    Many peoples lives have been ruined, literally, by bullies who are totally anonymous. There’s no registration requirement so if I was your neighbor, co-worker, class mate etc, I could go on Topix in your local forum and say horrible things to you and about you. I could post literally thousands upon thousands of negative, hateful, lies about you, your family, you kids, your pet etc etc etc.
    Some have been fortunate enough to sue the posters but it took an enormous amount of work, only after thousands of lies and bullying threads posted on Topix. Lives ruined, reputations ruined, careers ruined etc.
    First you have to find a lawyer qualified to handle the case. Then you have to get a court order to subpeona Topix for IP addresses in threads that bullied you. The the civil suit against the poster….
    Wouldnt it be easier to just force Mr. Tolles to take responsibility for his website?!
    Read further about what you, as an individual or concerned group can do to help stop or regulate Topix. There is help available but you have to be willing to be proactive. Don’t let another innocent person take their own lives because Chris Tolles makes millions from our misery!
    help is a click away:
    http://www.toxictopix.webs.com

  17. tonya banks says:

    I think this site should be banned, hopefully my grandson doesnt end up doing something stupid with his life because people are running his mom down on it and he reads it. so upsetting to him. and cant get anyone to take it off.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    This site is also bad in rural areas in southeastern Ohio (eg. Pomeroy, Gallipolis, & Point Pleasant, WV). I have personally been a victim and none of what was said was true. It takes a certain amount of strength to brush these things off and few adults I know can handle it, let alone children/teens. I am all for that site being banned, or forced to monitor their posts better. Thank you for the article, I am sharing it on my Facebook account now.

  19. Bray says:

    The cons definitely outweigh the pros. I have never seen a more disgusting site ever than Topix. They claim to be a news source, but in most of the forums I have seen there may be a handful of actual newsreports and the other posts are some of the most racist, offensive things I have ever seen. It is nothing more than an excuse for coward to go on the site and attack and I later learned they have over 400,000 forums but a grand total of FIVE moderators. Drug sales occur a lot, sexual predators, racist slurs (do a google search sometime for the AFAM forum take one look and then never go back it is horrible)
    Even worse they have now added a phone application making it even easier for people to attack. It makes most of the other social media sites seem mild by compasion and the Amanda Bennet story you mentioned is just one of many. Of course, Topix has said in the past that “free speech triumphs people’s feelings.” That has never been true and is part of the problem. People don’t have a clue what the first amendment really means. That site is trouble.

  20. Mary Kay says:

    As stated, the Internet brings out the best and the worst in people, and this site is an example.
    Parents need to be aware of the dangers so they can be more effectively involved in their kids’ online lives.
    Thanks for commenting.

  21. Good post. Topix has its pros and cons. While many people benefit from it sad stories as the one you mentioned does also happen.

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