More Safety in MySpace

Parents and watchdog groups have spoken. MySpace has listened.

The social networking site announced this week the debut of new safety and security features designed to keep distance between teens and adults.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), said the development is a positive one, but that the new measures don’t go far enough.

The primary new safety feature requires that all 18-plus year old members know either the e-mail address or the first and last names of members under 16
years old if they would like to connect with them.

In addition to the new safety features, MySpace announced that
members of any age will have the option to set their profiles to
private.

MySpace said it is also working to improve the targeting of ads on
its site in terms of age appropriateness.

“I think it is a step in the right direction,” NCSA Executive
Director Ron Teixeira told internetnews.com.

“But
unfortunately, the new measures they put in place cannot be truly
enforced because it’s almost impossible to verify someone’s age on the
Internet.”

Teixeira said that the electronic wall between those over 18 and
those under 16 is superficial, because
there’s nothing to stop ill-intending adults from pretending they are
much younger.

“If predators really want to get around [the barrier], they can
easily do it,” he said.

A MySpace representative who spoke on the condition of anonymity
argued that the safety measures are at least progress.

“Social networking is so new and a lot of the things that are going
on the Internet, the world is learning about collectively and so this
is a journey,” the MySpace spokesperson said.

Teixeira agreed. He thinks MySpace is learning its lessons
and trying to improve.

“They are listening. I think they are making a real attempt
to make their service safer for young adults,” Teixeira said.

“In the end, what needs to happen is parents and schools need to
educate children how to stay safe online. No matter what the service
does, there are always going to be dangers on the Internet.”

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