MySpace rolls out Zephyr to protect kids, hold off critics

Under government pressure, MySpace releases monitoring software so parents can find out what their kids claim their names, ages and location are. Doesn't include email access or ability to view private pages.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, parents of MySpace users are a little closer to being able to keep tabs on some of the information that teens post on the popular social networking site, reports Reuters.

Due to government pressure, MySpace announced that parents will soon be able to use new monitoring software called Zephyr, to find out what name, age and location their children use to represent themselves on MySpace, the newspaper said. However, parents won't have access to their children's email or be able to see their profile pages. Users will be alerted that their information is being shared, the paper reported.

The announcement came as state attorneys general consider whether to take action against MySpace if it does not raise the minimum age from 14 to 16 and begin verifying members' ages, the paper said.

The dilemma for social networking sites is how to add safety features while not alienating teenagers. Privacy issues have also hindered implementing safety features. The issues are whether the service would violate users' privacy rights, and whether other people besides parents could use the software to monitor children, the newspaper said.

Facebook and blogging site Xanga have decided not to implement the new software, and Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL have not said whether they would join the effort, the Journal said.

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