As a parent, coach, and board member of the local youth soccer league, even the remote possibility of an incident with a sex offender is one of my worst nightmares. Like many, there are precautions that we take as a family, team and a soccer board to eliminate this possibility as much as possible. That is why I am pleased to see that New York State is attempting to ensure that sex offenders can’t access social networking sites while on parole. While it is one state, and a small step, I think it is an important one for child safety and for community managers and social network vendors/providers.
There have been some pundits that have registered legitimate concerns that it will be hard to prevent offenders from getting online from a range of devices, Internet cafes, etc. While we should make this legislation as strong as possible, I think that the key point is that this is an important first step that will make it more difficult for offenders to participate in social networks and the legislation can always be improved.
The lesson for Community Managers: Stay on top of sex offender, privacy and other relevant community legislation to further demonstrate that you value the welfare of your community members. There may be extra effort and expense, but it will pale in comparison to ignoring it.