MySpace to Enable Parents to Block Children

I called in late to the MySpace press conference on internet safety this morning. I was able to catch a large portion of the conversation which revolved around prosecuting internet predators and protecting younger users. One highlight of the conversation was that Myspace is focusing on identity authentication. Through this identity authentication process, parents will also be able to prevent their children from registering for the site.

Also expressed in the call is a new partnership between Myspace and the New York Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General’s office has been one of the most aggressive in pursuing online safety violations. This call was most likely a follow-up to the ongoing case surrounding the 13-year old Megan Meier who hung herself after being bullied by neighbors. This has become an increasingly serious issue on social networks.

MySpace now has a task force that is responsible for pursuing sexual predators on their site and have actively brought cases against predators resulting in both jail time and fines. As social networks become the primary place for connecting online, the need for child protection has increased drastically. MySpace appears to be investing heavily in protecting the users of the site. Not a surprising move following the Megan Meier story.

Other social networks, including Facebook, have also come under fire for cases involving sexual predators. Facebook appears to be focusing on improving privacy settings within their network while MySpace has increased privacy settings in addition to funding an internet safety task force. It appears that this will be an ongoing issue until better identity authentication systems are in place. The MySpace spokesperson indicated that identity authentication is now one of their primary focuses.