Sunday, June 25, 2006

MySpace caters to the concerns

Maybe it took a multi-million dollar lawsuit, but MySpace has created some new rules in order to protect the safety of minors.
MySpace users who are 18 or over will no longer be able to request to be on a 14- or 15-year-old's friends' list unless they already know either the youth's e-mail address or full name. This is to prevent prowlers from scoping for youth in MySpace, but will allow parents, relatives and other adults to be able to befriend a child -- IF they know his or her email address. This policy will not remove those adults who already are on minors' pages, so those with ill intent could be working overtime to befriend as many minors as possible before this rule goes into effect.
One of the major limitations to this regulation is that MySpace currently has no mechanism for verifying that users submit their true age when registering. I know many people who are supposedly 99 years old. And if someone wants to choose an age closer to their real one, it doesn't take a math genius to figure out what date of birth you need to register under in order to become an 18 year old and completely available to the public eye.
Another limitation is that this may encourage teens to become more secretive with their MySpace accounts. They may create one account with their real age for their parents to monitor: I'm sure it will be full of school events and some cool new music. And then a teen can have his or her "real" space, using a different email address, where they learn about parties, crushes, and other assorted gossip.
MySpace does need to increase its regulations. But don't think that there are not easy work arounds for teens who want to have a public profile.

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