MySpace: We're not so bad - really!

Feeling the heat after several child molestors used the site to find their victims, MySpace defends the site, its policies and its concern for its users.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

The conventional wisdom among parents and many educators is that the single most dangerous thing a kid can do is to join MySpace. Most people think that the space is populated exclusively by 12-year-old girls posing inappropriately in halter tops, and old perverts posing as hot hunky guys.

Earlier this month, for example, two men were arrested in separate incidences for allegedly engaging in sexual contact with minors, whom they met through MySpace. One of the minors was 14 years old and the other was 11.

Speaking at a media conference in LA, MySpace executives took pains to explain that MySpace is not a wild den of teen perversion, News.com reports.

The site takes down offensive content, from nudity to racist material, they said. Some 250,000 profiles have been removed for inappropriate content.

Spokesperson Dani Dudeck said the site is older than many people realize, that substantial staff are dedicated to policing the site, and there is anything but an anythinggoes policy.

"Nearly 80 percent of our members are 18 years or older, and that speaks for itself," Dudeck said. She added that the company does not take a "hands-off approach" to its user base, pointing to its other ongoing efforts to keep younger members safe. MySpace assigns roughly 90 employees, a third of its workforce, to the task of monitoring the safety and security of members, Dudeck said. Using search and algorithm technologies, MySpace employees will review information for such inconsistencies as claiming to be a 14-year-old member while putting information in a profile about a 7th grade teacher and class.

As a result of the site's research, members who are not 14 or older will have their profiles removed, she said. MySpace also limits the amount of information displayed on profiles posted by 14- to 16-year-old members. If those members want to let a person view their entire profile, they can accept the potential visitor's request for full access. But the individual who gains access to the full profile is prohibited from allowing others to view the profile, Dudeck said.

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