MySpace makes site safer for kids 19 January 2008

MySpace agreed Monday to make the nation’s largest social-networking site safer for children by checking ages more carefully, granting parents greater control and building higher walls between its adult and younger users. MySpace remains at the front of Internet-based social networks, and as networking became popular in recent years — MySpace now has 110 million registered users — problems emerged: Minors received sexual solicitations and links to pornography, were bullied, and sexual predators used sites in abductions.

On Monday, MySpace agreed to create an e-mail registry for parents, who will be able to submit their child’s e-mail addresses, then restrict access to MySpace. MySpace also agreed to search for better ways to verify ages and make other changes in an agreement with nearly all the nation’s attorneys general. Monday’s deal is not a complete solution — for example, the goal of accurately verifying the ages of online users remains elusive — but experts suggested it was a good first step. “Is this a good start? Yes,” said Paula Selis, senior counsel in the consumer protection division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. She worked on the agreement. “I foresee this becoming a template for the industry.” The other social-networking behemoth, Facebook, was not named as part of Monday’s agreement, but was supportive.