MySpace gets it right, but there's still more to do
MySpace and the attorneys general of 49 states – all states except Texas but including DC — said late yesterday that they had agreed to a set of principles aimed at increasing young people’s safety on social networking sites.
Those principles include incorporating new safety initiatives, such as reviewing every image and video uploaded to the site; making the profiles of kids ages 14 – 17 automatically private (minimum age to sign up on MySpace is 14 and 14- and 15-year olds’ profiles already were private); exploring the option of allowing parents to opt their children out of the service altogether with an email registry; and deleting all registered sex offenders from MySpace, although why a registered sex offender would sign up on MySpace under his real name is beyond me.
Social networking portals – such as MySpace and Facebook – are immensely popular among teenagers. With so many young subscribers, parents and communities are reasonably worried that sexual predators – some 60,000 of which are on the Internet daily, according to the Denver Post — will use the service to lure young victims.
Last September, authorities wondered whether MySpace or another social networking site helped lead 53-year-old sexual predator Duane Morrison to Platte Canyon Middle High School in Bailey, Colo., where he took hostage and sexually assaulted six girls, including 16-year-old Emily Keyes, who he shot and killed before killing himself. While that link was never proven, it did lead state authorities to demand more from social-networking sites.
While this is a good start, it’s really just a start. A broad statement of principles hardly goes far enough to protect kids from people who might hurt them. There’s no reason kids should ever be exposed to dangers online and the companies that provide those services should happily be doing everything in their power to protect their youngest users. It’s the socially moral thing to do, and that should be good for business.