Facebook to close U.S. prison inmate accounts

Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:46am EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Facebook has begun closing the accounts of California prison inmates after a convicted child molester viewed the pages of his victim from behind bars, authorities and the social networking site said.

Facebook has shut down the accounts of at least two prisoners and officials are working on identifying other accounts that had been accessed from behind bars, said the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Though most prisoners in California do not have access to the Internet, they often log onto the Internet with contraband cell phones, despite an effort to crack down on the devices, corrections officials said.

California corrections officials, who formally announced the partnership with Facebook Monday, said they have received hundreds of complaints from victims who were contacted by prison inmates behind bars.

They include the convicted child molester, who prison officials said viewed the Facebook and MySpace pages of his victim, then mailed her family some drawings of the girl, officials said.

The victim was 10 years-old when she was molested and 17 when she was contacted by the offender, who had used the Web to learn how she wore her hair and her brand of clothes.

"Really, they're just limited by their imagination, you've got high ranking gang members shot-calling, ordering crimes to be committed on their behalf," California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Dana Toyama told Reuters.

Palo Alto, California-based Facebook lets inmates use the website if they are located in a state that allows them to access the Internet.   Continued...

<p>A page from the Facebook website is seen in Singapore May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Tan Shung Sin</p>