MySpace Adds Protections For Minors - InformationWeek

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MySpace Adds Protections For Minors

MySpace tries to protect teenagers on the site from sexual predators, but at least one expert says it isn't enough., the most popular teen hangout on the Web, added on Wednesday protections for minors, a move that followed by a couple of days a Texas lawsuit filed by a 14-year-old girl who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a man she met on the site.

The social-networking site, which has posted tremendous growth over the last year, has become the focus of child advocacy groups that fear has become a favorite of sexual predators. Concerns over the safety of teens on the site have sparked a federal proposal to bar schools and libraries from allowing children to access and other similar sites.

In trying to allay the public,, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., put in place Wednesday added security for 14- and 15-year-old members, new options for privacy settings for all members and restrictions on ad placements to teens.

"MySpace is committed to innovating new product features to heighten online safety, particularly in the area of 14 to 15 year olds," Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer for, said in a statement. "In addition to technology innovation, MySpace remains dedicated to a multi-pronged approach that also involves education and collaboration with law enforcement, teachers, parents and members." recently hired Nigam, a former federal prosecutor against Internet child exploitation for the U.S. Department of Justice, to oversee its child protection measures.

The added security features include 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.

In addition, MySpace members of any age have the option to allow only friends within their private network to view detailed information on their profiles, such as personal interests and friends. Members can also restrict contact to people within their own age group.

Finally, vowed to make sure advertising that reached minors was appropriate to the age group, and said it would place ads that promote safe Internet behavior.

Parry Aftab, a U.S. lawyer specializing in Internet privacy and security law and head of, said's latest features were "a good start, but I need to see more."

"This is a step, and every step is good," Aftab said.

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