As it happens, I've spent the last few weeks researching a feature (yet to be published) about online sexual offenders, and have been immersed in a frightening and creepy universe where either 1 in 5 or 1 in 7 children -- depending on which stats you believe -- under the age of 18 have been sexually solicited online. And those are just the reported incidents. As experts in this field point out, sexual exploitation of children is one of the most under-reported crimes due to the victims' shame and fear of being punished.
There's the big question of exactly how much MySpace, or any other social networking site, can actually do. There's nothing to prevent a purged sex offender from simply signing up under another name. Not to mention that the MySpace policy only targets those slimeballs who have actually been convicted -- what about all the other creeps who have never been caught, or for whom the Internet has lowered the barrier to entry for acting on what were previously only fantasies?
What do you think? Should MySpace release the names? Would it do any good if it did? Or -- as many believe -- is the only effective safeguard against online threats the education of parents and children alike? Let us know by responding to the InformationWeek blog.