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Has to hand over sex offender info

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Social networking site Facebook has been ordered to turn over information on whether registered sex offenders have set up profiles on its site.

The Attorney General's office of New Jersey has supoenaed the popular social network, along with 11 other social networking sites, ordering them to release the information.

Facebook was sent a list of registered sex offenders in the state in September, and any matching profiles were removed, although the company will not divulge an exact number.

However, Anne Milgram, the attorney general in New Jersey, is seeking names and email addresses of those the site identified. The return date for the subpoena is 12 October.

Only a few weeks ago Facebook had fallen foul of New York state officials over its claims that younger users are more protected from sexual predators on Facebook than on other websites. State investigators who registered on the site posing as 12 to 14-year-olds claimed they had been solicited for sex.

While Facebook's claim that it was safer than other social network sites may have had some truth in the past, from the days when Facebook was a closed shop to all but college students, New York state investigators disagree with the statement now, and have warned the site to amend its claims or face a possible consumer fraud charge.

Officials from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office are due to meet with the site again this week.

Facebook is keeping its head down on the matter, although it has already released a previous statement expressing its concern over the claims that predators could use its site to groom their victims.

This latest bout of legal action may be seen as an indication of Facebook's growing popularity among internet users; the site currently has an estimated 39 million active members.

© 2007 ENN

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