informa
/
2 MIN READ
News

MySpace Adds Protections For Minors

MySpace tries to protect teenagers on the site from sexual predators, but at least one expert says it isn't enough.
But how effective those steps will be remains to be seen, Aftab said. Even though MySpace.com says it won't target minors with inappropriate advertising, it's difficult to see how that can be accomplished for everyone when there's no way to verify the age of members. The same problem exists when MySpace.com says it won't allow adults to contact minors, since sexual predators can lie about their age.

"It's clearly a problem, but I'm not sure there's an answer to it," Aftab said.

It remains to be seen whether the additional measures would help in MySpace.com's defense against the lawsuit filed Monday by the Austin, Texas, girl. The $30 million suit claims the 14-year-old was sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old man she met on MySpace.com, which the suit accuses of failing to do enough to protect minors against sexual predators, the Reuters news agency reported.

The suit is not the first time MySpace.com has found itself the center of child sexual abuse cases. In March, two men arrested in Connecticut were charged with having illegal sexual contact with two girls they met through MySpace.com, according to Reuters. One girl was 11 years old and the other was 14.

The minimum age for MySpace.com members is 14, but verification of age remains difficult, officials with the site have said.

Incidents involving minors who use MySpace.com have sparked a public outcry that led to proposed federal legislation from Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Penn. Called the Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006, the bill would bar schools and libraries from allowing minors to access social-networking sites and chat rooms without parental consent.

MySpace.com has become the focal point for dangers the Web poses to minors as a result of its phenomenal success. In April, the site grew 367 percent from the same month a year ago to 38.4 million users, making it the top social-networking site in the nation, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The use of such sites in general have soared over the last year, with nearly half of all U.S. Web users visiting the top 10 social-networking sites.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing