MySpace Launches Internet Safety Campaign

Courtesy of TechWeb Technology News, the online social network popular with teens and young adults, joined Seventeen Magazine and educational groups in launching an Internet safety campaign. MySpace, which has been criticized for not doing enough to protect its youngest members from sexual predators, said its partnership with Seventeen, the National School Board Association and the National Association of Independent Schools would target parents, teens and teachers with tips, suggestions and information on safe online behavior. As part of their campaign, the organizations have created and distributed a publication called "Parents' and School Administrators' Guides to Internet Safety." Topics include how members use MySpace, information on company safety practices and Seventeen's Web safety tips for teens. The guide is available for download from MySpace in its Tips for Parents section. In October, MySpace and the National School Board Association plan to distribute the "School Administrators' Guide to Internet Safety," which would address the safety challenges students and educators face in relation to MySpace. The site, which is owned by News Corp., launched in June security measures to protect 14 and 15 year olds. The measures included preventing a person 18 or older from contacting a member under 16 years old, unless he knows either the email address or first and last name of the minor. MySpace at the time also launched more options for privacy settings and restrictions on ad placements to teens. The additional security followed within days after a 14-year-old girl sued the site in Texas, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a man she met on MySpace. Earlier this year, MySpace hired Hemanshu Nigam as chief security officer. Nigam is a former federal prosecutor against Internet child exploitation for the U.S. Department of Justice. Nevertheless, child advocacy groups maintain that among the biggest problems of social networks remains their failure to reliably determine the age of people joining the site, in order to separate children and adults. MySpace in June had 66 million unique visitors, making it the 15th largest property on the Web, according to ComScore Networks.