Friday, January 19, 2007

Myspace in court

Myspace is in trouble over "sex traps" created by predators on its network. It's happened before and, you might assume, will happen again.

Each of the girls was allegedly lured into meetings with men who had chatted them up on MySpace then plied them with drugs or alcohol and sexually abused them, according to the suits filed in Los Angeles.

Here's what their chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam had to say in response:

"MySpace serves as an industry leader on Internet safety and we take proactive measures to protect our members.''

"Ultimately, internet safety is a shared responsibility. We encourage everyone to apply commonsense offline safety lessons in their online experiences and engage in open family dialogue about smart web practices.''

How about that? An industry leader on internet safety? Hhmm, we can only be glad Mr Nigam doesn't work in the airline industry.

And of course let's throw responsibility back to the family.

As Adam Loewy, a lawyer for some of the girls, said: "Blaming the families of abuse victims who were solicited online, as some have done, is a cynical excuse that ignores the fact that social networking sites can lead to heinous abuse by internet predators.''

Myspace is definitely in need of a more adept public spokesperson.

Thing is, there's a serious and complex issue here. One that may well be beyond the capacity of Myspace to solve regardless of the technical solutions they attempt.

But it does looks like this is one of the ways next generation social networking sites will find their mark.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why not throw it back at the family?? If I were to go to a mall, meet a girl their, hook up with her later at a hotel, and an assault happens, can her family sue the mall?? I think not!! People these days are relying more and more on the government to watch their "innocent" child that does no wrong. MySpace is not as bad as the media portrays it to be.

A South Florida professor says teens are safer on than parents think.

Criminology Professor Dr. Sameer Hinduja and his research team at Florida Atlantic University determined the safety of more than 2,400 Myspace profiles of teenagers from across the country.

"MySpace has received a significant amount of negative attention by the popular media, as well as by parents, teachers, school administrators, counselors, and even law enforcement," said Hinduja. "We wanted to collect data to determine how many youth were including identifying information on their MySpace profile pages that a predator could potentially use to locate them."

The study documented the number of profiles that included a teen's first name, full name, birth date, telephone number, postal address, e-mail address, instant messaging screen name, city, state and name of their school. Researchers also looked for evidence of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drug use, photos, pictures of teens in swimsuits/underwear and swear words.

According to the report, 40 percent of teens had set their profiles to private; a setting that only allows friends to view their page.

Of the remaining 1,500 profiles not set to private, only 4 percent listed instant messaging contact information and 1 percent listed their email addresses.

"By and large, kids were very responsible," Hinduja said. "They were being vigilant and being wise in terms of what they were revealing online."

The report said that four of the teens included their personal cell phone numbers on their home page.

Hinduja told WPBF that he was still concerned over the amount of teens who are still posting provocative pictures or giving away intimate information about their personal lives on the popular social networking site.

Some of the findings included: · Almost 57 percent of the profiles included at least one photo of the teen, often of themselves with family, friends or people they met at a social gathering. Many others provided detailed descriptions of their personal appearance.

· Almost 40 percent of the profiles included the youth's first name, and about 9 percent included their full name.

· About 81 percent of the youth included the name of the city in which they live, and another 28 percent named the school they attend.

· About 4 percent included their instant messaging name, and 1 percent included their e-mail address.

· About 18 percent of the sites included evidence of alcohol use, 7 percent included evidence of tobacco use and 2 percent included evidence of marijuana use.

· Nearly 20 percent of the profiles included profanity, and almost 33 percent of the sites included swear words in the posted comments.