When you sign up for a personal Facebook page, you are agreeing to their terms and conditions. One rule says you can't be under the age of 13. Another says you can't create more than one profile, and one says you cannot be a convicted sex offender.
However, a month long investigation into Facebook uncovered dozens of Lubbock sex offenders who are using the site, despite those rules.
KCBD NewsChannel 11 sought to contact those sex offenders. Using the addresses listed in the sex offender registry we went to their homes to talk with them in person.
Valentine Sanchez, 33, was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. When we visited his home, he told us he served 10 years in prison. However, he says he is innocent of the crimes. He also says he didn't know he couldn't be on Facebook.
We asked: "Do you see why people might have concerns that you're on Facebook?" Sanchez: "Oh yeah, but, see, the thing is, everybody I got on my Facebook is all family. I don't talk to nobody else, even people that request to be my friend, I deny them if I don't know them."
Sanchez wasn't the only sex offender KCBD found on Facebook. Through our in depth investigation we found at least 20 others. We visited their homes, one by one, and found a few who were willing to talk with us.
Joseph Hubbard, 20, has a conviction of aggravated sexual assault of a child. It's a crime he says he served 8 years in jail for. He uses Facebook but says he does nothing inappropriate, and he says he's offended that some might think he does.
"Personally, I'd tell them to go screw themselves because I'm not that way. Everybody has their own freedom of thought, but me - in general - I'm not a bad person. You don't see me going around, peaking around corners at little kids, I don't do that stuff. I'm just a normal person," Hubbard said.
Dustin Buckaloo, 27, has a conviction of sexual battery. He had not one, but three Facebook pages. However, he says his usage on the website is completely harmless.
"I'm a good person, I'm not a pervert. I'm not someone that targets little children, I'm a good person," Buckaloo said.
Ralph Aldrich says his conviction of possession of child pornography landed him in prison for two years. He also has a Facebook page. He says he didn't know Facebook had rules that make the site off limits.
"I remember going through some rules, but I didn't see that. I thought about that for quite awhile. And, actually, I just stayed away from all of that stuff for years," Aldrick said.
Aldrick says he uses Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family. He says it's actually helped in his recovery by reuniting him with people from his past.
"It's not a temptation for me, I'm very careful. It's been a good for me," Aldrich said.
None of the men we interviewed are violating their probation or parole by being on Facebook. However, probation officer Jennifer Mora says it's still dangerous, depending on the offender.
"For some offenders, it can be a significant concern. And some of them I would have a lot of concern about," Mora said.
KCBD NewsChannel 11 attempted to contact Facebook's administrative offices several times. Each time, we received an email from Nicky Jackson Colaco. Colaco identified herself as someone working with Facebook Safety.
She refused to grant us a telephone interview, and instead sent us this extensive statement.
"Convicted sex offenders are prohibited from using Facebook. Once we are able to verify a person's status as a sex offender, we immediately disable his/her account and remove all information associated with it.
Protecting people on Facebook, especially the many teens who use our site, has always been a top priority for us. We've devoted significant resources to developing innovative and complex systems to proactively monitor the site, including those not on a sex offender registry, for suspicious activity (such as contacting minors or users of predominantly one gender). We've also established a large team of professional investigators to evaluate any reports of potential abuse surfaced by our systems or by the people on Facebook.
We have been working proactively with states' attorneys general to run their lists of registered sex offenders against our user base. Our team uses various internal tools to automatically find potential matches. Those matches are then evaluated more fully by our internal team of investigation professionals. If we find that someone on a sex offender registry is a likely match to a user on Facebook, we notify law enforcement and disable the account. In some cases, law enforcement has asked us to leave the accounts active so that they can investigate the user further. We have also worked proactively to establish a publicly available national database of registered sex offenders that enables real-time checks and includes important online information like email addresses and IM handles."
While Facebook may not be able to keep all registered sex offenders off of their site, Mora says parents should take the extra step and make sure they know who their children are talking to.
"You know, sometimes we get that false sense of security because we have that computer between us and that other person, and I think children might as well. So, you just want to restrict them from talking to people they don't know," Mora said.
If you would like to visit the Texas Sex Offender Registry, just visit: https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/DPS_WEB/SorNew/index.aspx
KCBD will continue to follow the developments of this story and see when or if Facebook deletes the convicted sex offender's page. We will pass along any information we uncover.
Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.