Facebook has removed 5,500 sex offenders since May

Facebook has removed more than 5,500 convicted sex offenders from its social networking Web site since May, Connecticut's attorney general said yesterday.Richard Blumenthal said the world's largest social networking site, which claims to have more than 175 million active members, reported to his office that 5,585 convicted sex offenders were found on the Web site and removed between May 1, 2008, and Jan.

Facebook has removed more than 5,500 convicted sex offenders from its social networking Web site since May, Connecticut's attorney general said yesterday.

Richard Blumenthal said the world's largest social networking site, which claims to have more than 175 million active members, reported to his office that 5,585 convicted sex offenders were found on the Web site and removed between May 1, 2008, and Jan. 31, 2009.

"The message in this number is Facebook has an equal stake in solving this problem of protecting children," Blumenthal said. "They have an equal stake in the predator problem and its solution."

Earlier this month, networking site MySpace said it had removed 90,000 sex offenders in two years.

Last year, the attorneys general pushed Facebook and Myspace to implement dozens of safeguards, including finding better ways to verify users' ages and putting limits on older users' ability to search the profiles of members under 18.

Part of the agreement with Facebook. (Full PDF agreement here.)

The convicted sexual offenders on the site were found through user reports, working with local law enforcement agencies and using the national sex offender registry, according to Facebook's chief privacy officer Chris Kelly.

Kelly said Facebook's focus on members using their real names and identities helps discourage sex offenders, and even more is being planned to prevent them from registering.