John Suthers's office clarifies Facebook stance

Even if you wanted to, you couldn't be friends with Colorado Attorney General John Suthers's office -- at least not on Facebook. And the office has recommended that any other state agency that doesn't already have a Facebook page hold off for a while.

"There could be conflicts with state law and we've told our clients to hold tight while we work out this issue with Facebook," says AG spokesman Mike Saccone, who adds that there are hundreds of existing Facebook pages dedicated to state agencies, primarily colleges and universities.

On Tuesday, Westword reported that History Colorado had posted a message on Facebook saying it would have to take its page down. "The state attorney general has notified state agencies to remove any Facebook pages due to indemnity issues. They are working on a solution, but until then, the History Colorado Fan Page is going offline today," the message read.

But Saccone said on Wednesday that the Attorney General's office hadn't asked any state agencies to take down an existing page and further stated that the office doesn't "have the power to order any state agency to do anything."

The problem that the AG's office is concerned about is a clause in Facebook's terms of service that users agree to. Called an "indemnity clause," it stipulates that Facebook users can't hold the site responsible if a user initiates legal action against another user.

"Indemnity clauses are very common. We are seeking a resolution similar to what the federal government has with Facebook, in which the indemnity clause has been removed," Saccone says. "It's not unprecedented and the issue is not new by any means."

Saccone adds that the state has been negotiating with Facebook for six months -- ever since the Attorney General's office considered creating its own Facebook page. "There is no timeline, but we are hopeful that something can be worked out soon with Facebook."

History Colorado now has a new message posted on its page reading, "woohoo, now the page stays! Thanks for everyone's understanding."

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes