It's getting tougher for mug shot websites to make money … and stay in business.
The New York Times reported last month on the growth of websites that profit by posting mug shots, then charge people to have their mug shots removed, even if those people were never charged with a crime or convicted. Even worse, after you pay to have your mug shot removed from one website, it often appears on multiple others.
Now, according to a follow-up report in The New York Times, the mug shot websites are getting hit from two sides. First, banks stopped processing credit card payments for the websites, cutting off their revenue source. Then, Google updated its algorithm to demote mug shot websites in search results, making the sites hard to find.
Mug shot website owners say they provide a valuable public service.
From The New York Times:
Another large site, mugshots.com, was angry enough about the algorithm change that it posted a 4,500-word rant on its blog, asserting that Google had imperiled Americans who no longer have a quick, simple way to determine if someone is dangerous. This would make more sense if the company were vigilant about deleting the records of people who are never charged or who are found innocent.
THELAW.TV polled 500 Internet users to find out whether they think mug shot websites should be legal. A strong majority said, yes, mug shot websites should be legal.
Here are the results of THELAW.TV's poll:
58% of Americans say, yes, mug shot websites should be legal
42% of Americans say, no, mug shot websites shouldn't be legal
Here are some comments from the poll respondents:
- "Yes, they're public records."
- "Only if run by a governing body."
- "Only if convicted of a felony."
- "Yes. Absolutely. It's a good deterrent."
- "Haha. Yes, mine are easily Googled. It's my stupid fault."
What do you think? Tell us in the comment section below.