The North Carolina attorney general’s office announced that MySpace had turned over the names of 2,116 registered sex offenders that also happened to be registered on MySpace. Or rather, were registered on MySpace. The offenders have since been removed from the site.
The state said it also requested similar information from Facebook. Last year Facebook removed 5,585 convicted sex offenders from its site
and MySpace announced it removed 90,000 sex offenders in the past two
In a statement, Attorney General Roy Cooper said, “It’s no secret that child predators are on these Web sites. Turning over information about these predators to law enforcement helps, but MySpace, Facebook and other social networks need to do much more to protect kids online.”
Cooper leads a group of attorneys general who are working to ensure that social networking sites are safer, by urging them to use technology such as age and identity verification.
I’m not sure how these technologies work, but it seems easy enough to lie about your age; the only surefire way to find out who a user really is is to get his or her Social Security number, and I don’t see people lining up to give up their numbers to MySpace or Facebook.
I think simply expecting that our kids will be safe online is a pipe dream, and a dangerous one at that. No matter what these sites do to protect our kids, it won’t be enough; there will always be cracks in the system. It’s up to us, the parents, to keep track of what our kids are doing online, and most importantly, who they’re meeting. Of course I want MySpace and Facebook and their ilk to be as safe as they can be for our kids. But I also think our kids need to learn how to use those sites safely.
When I was 5 and my sister 7, we used to walk a mile-and-a-half to school and back each day. Today, I’d love to give my kids the freedom I had, but I’m too nervous about who or what might be lurking around the corner. The same holds true for the Internet. Just because we want to give our kids the freedom to explore the Internet on their own, doesn’t mean it’s safe for them to do it.
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