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MySpace To Be Made Safer For Users 251

Posted by Zonk
from the because-czars-are-always-the-best-approach dept.
Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "'When News Corp. bought the social-networking Web site MySpace.com last July, the media company got two surprises, one good and one bad,' the Wall Street Journal reports. The good news: Traffic nearly doubled in the last half of last year. The bad news: MySpace is being criticized for exposing children to risqué content and sexual predators. In response, 'News Corp. plans to appoint a "safety czar" to oversee the site, launch an education campaign that may include letters to schools and public-service announcements to encourage children not to reveal their contact information."
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MySpace To Be Made Safer For Users

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  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:16AM (#14742175)
    Good to see that another company has found a way to pass off advertising as "public service announcements."
  • Shoot. (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:17AM (#14742180) Homepage Journal

    I guess it's back to trenchcoats, candy, and schoolyards for me.
    • Re:Shoot. (Score:4, Funny)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:24AM (#14742244) Journal
      Just last week, I was sitting on a bench, in a hallway (talking on my cellphone) when a class let out.

      Some female teacher happened to be walking by at the same moment and she was holding a small bowl with some candy in it.

      She kinda waved it around and said "free candy, please take it, I don't want to have to eat it."

      Now, she had stopped almost exactly in front of me, but on the other side of the hall. It took all my willpower not to blurt out "My mother told me to never take candy from strangers."

    • Re:Shoot. (Score:3, Insightful)

      All these sites could be dangerous. I have looked through MySpace to see if I could get any funny dirt on anyone (Yes, I found funny pics of a coworker in a skimpy outfit hitting a bong, but that's beside the point) With just a first name, approx. age and city, it is so easy to find out someone's address. But what gets even crazier, is that a lot of the profiles have where people work. So when someone says they work at XXXXXX Restaurant on weekends or whatever, it would be very easy to bump into them.
      My fr
  • This just in... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:17AM (#14742188) Journal
    Websites that let children meet random people on the internet are being used by pedophiles.

    Oh, wait...this was talked about almost ten years ago.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:18AM (#14742199) Journal
    Step 1. Banning any and all use of the color Pink
    Step 2. Deleting all profiles that use the word "like" more than twice
    Step 3. DeLeTiNg AlL PrOfIlEs ThAt LoOk LiKe ThIs
    Step 4. Making MySpace safe from internet predators
    Step 6. Profit!

    And yes, I want it done in that goddamn order.
  • new url (Score:2, Funny)

    so... mysafespacewherenobadpeoplewillgetme.com then?
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:23AM (#14742234) Journal
    Dick Cheney
  • I have mixed feelings about MySpace... As a father of a little girl, I don't want censorship but I also don't want her to be exposing herself and revealing personal information that could be used against her by predators. Of course, I could block myspace.com at my firewall but this doesn't stop her from accessing it at her friend's houses. Basically my thoughts on the subject have come down to this: there's really no redeeming qualities about myspace and so much to be abused.
    • Friendster had a nice setup where your profile could only be viewed by your friends. You could do a search for a name and try to add someone as your friend, but you'll only be able to access their profile once they approve you as a friend.

      I don't think myspace has this option. I don't have any kids, but I have a niece who just turned 12 and is starting to use myspace because her friends use it. I informed my sister-in-law about all the things that are happening and talked to my niece about being careful w

    • At your house? You let her watch porn at her friends?

      Children should be supervised. Period. and if they're not then you should take whatever steps are necessary, including preventing access to friends who are a poor influence, you're the responsible adult after all.

       
    • For a site with "no redeeming qualities" it sure is popular.

      What you probably mean is, it has no redeeming qualities FOR YOU. But then again, neither do teen idols, glam magazines, and scratch-and-sniff stickers.

      The real question whether the risk of an internet predator outweighs the enjoyment factor. IMO it's a real, but overblown threat... a smaller risk than, say, letting your kid walk to school.
    • I have mixed feelings about MySpace... As a father of a little girl, I don't want censorship but I also don't want her to be exposing herself and revealing personal information that could be used against her by predators. Of course, I could block myspace.com at my firewall but this doesn't stop her from accessing it at her friend's houses. Basically my thoughts on the subject have come down to this: there's really no redeeming qualities about myspace and so much to be abused.

      First off. You are not your daug
      • There is just as much of a chance as a kidnapper being otuside your daughters school, as there is on myspace.
        And if you can eliminate one of those sources of risk, you've reduced the overall risk. Of course, it's possible that she'll meet good people on myspace that she'll learn positive things from, but I think there's better networking sites (like friendster) for teens to participate in.
    • I have mixed feelings about MySpace... As a father of a little girl, I don't want censorship but I also don't want her to be exposing herself and revealing personal information that could be used against her by predators. Of course, I could block myspace.com at my firewall but this doesn't stop her from accessing it at her friend's houses. Basically my thoughts on the subject have come down to this: there's really no redeeming qualities about myspace and so much to be abused.

      I empathize with your situati
    • As a father of a little girl, I don't want censorship but I also don't want her to be exposing herself and revealing personal information that could be used against her by predators.

      I can see your concern, but perhaps it is better to have a sit down talk with her about Internet and shady people. Not just Peds and stalkers, but that people are not always generally nice and sometimes have evil intentions. You know like Scammer and Phisers and even high school boyfriends who won't call after they've taken adva
    • by mongus (131392)
      I've got a daughter who will be 15 next month. We had a problem with her spending WAY too much time on myspace. She was neglecting her homework and her grades were dropping fast. Most of the time she said she was doing homework on the computer she was actually on myspace.

      I didn't see anything positive about myspace and lots of negatives. I run my own DNS server at home so simply adding an entry for myspace.com quickly fixed the problem.

      She was pretty upset when myspace didn't work anymore but has only c

      • Understand that by mentioning any of this, you're opening yourself up to the armchair quarterbacking of thousands of geeks, most of whom have never raised anything more complicated than a goldfish.

        Including me.

        There should be no such thing as offensive language. That would imply that the words and the order in which they are strung together somehow carry more power than the ideas the combination of words conveys. The idea that a simple utteration--a mere string of syllables--should have some inherent mora
  • Nevermind trying to be safe. Myspace should make some upgrades so their site is accessible. If you try to go there during the evening, it's very slow and sometimes their site malfunctions.
    • SOMETIMES myspace malfunctions?! I'm always getting errors on one part of the site or another. Often times the error message doesn't even match what you are doing. There are days where I can click on any link on any page in the entire myspace.com domain and I will get a "user's profile is undergoing special maintenance" error. Doesn't mean I clicked on a profile, but I get the error nonetheless. Then there's the ever so famous "sorry an unexpected error occurred. Myspace tech group has been notified"
  • by PrimeWaveZ (513534) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:24AM (#14742243)
    Have you seen Myspace? It's the 13 year old whorish girls who are talking about their sex lives and their 13 year old boyfriends who want to be pimps who are the dangerous ones on Myspace. That situation makes it a magnet for sex predators, but Myspace seems to be the catalyst for self-destruction as well as a forum for sex predators to find easy (and willing) targets
  • by bl4h (951876) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:26AM (#14742259)
    way to make the world seem uglier than it really is i dont believe this is as big of a problem as made seem millions of contacts and conversations going on via the internet/myspace everyday without problem. Most human males are true perverts. we just have boundries that we choose not to cross. A small majority lack control of themselves
    • way to make the world seem uglier than it really is i dont believe this is as big of a problem as made seem millions of contacts and conversations going on via the internet/myspace everyday without problem/

      There was this interesting experiment done recently that had a "demo" available on the web about human perception. Basically, they were experimenting on the effects of graphic images on human perception. The demo showed a slide show of neutral images, displaying each image for around a second. Then
  • Good thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tweekster (949766)
    that sexual predators are not in the offline world and only on webites... oh wait. they exist there. Is it that difficult to tell kids to not give out private info. (yes myspace can contain some info, but largely that is gonna be pretty useless, you have to actually talk to the person to get anything) Children are not exposed to predators through myspace, they are already exposed everyday. Is it that difficult for parents to practice a little bit of, oh i dont know, PARENTING. Maybe if your kid isnt sma
    • True that. It would be completely within reason to review your child's myspace page and find out a little bit about their contacts. In fact, it would be pretty much negligent to not do so, in addition to talking to them about the dangers that exist and what information is not acceptable for them to post on their page. Of course, you're going to find someone who signed their guestbook using profanity or inuendo and have to figure out how much you want your kid conversing with them, but you'll encounter that
    • As a kid signing up for a big, important web site, how are you supposed to say no when they ask you for (at a minimum) your age, zip code and birthday? Surely the creators of that web site know what they're doing, right? And how as a kid are you suppposed to know that people can find you using that information?

      You get a sequentially-allocated identity immediately (straightforward to fish for) that is public for whatever window of time it takes you to figure out how to make it private. Of course, gettin

  • The dangers are real (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TechnoGuyRob (926031) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:30AM (#14742295) Homepage
    While it may seem silly, the dangers explained in the article are reality. Myspace has 56 million users [myspace.com]. With all of the personal information I have seen on profiles, it is only expectable that it is misused someday.

    A few months ago, a friend of a student at my school experienced a horrible ordeal. Her best friend was murdered and raped by an assaulter who had obtained her personal information from her "Facebook" [facebook.com] (another popular--mainly among college students--online community service).

    Either way, I find it absurd how much people disclose on their profiles. I won't post any links, but people have their addresses, home phone numbers, and--the perfect appetizer for an attacker--half-dressed pictures. I don't know about you, but that smells like trouble to me.
    • Girls and guys I know call Facebook: Stalkerbook

      And you're right, people are fscking stupid for posting their home/cellphone numbers, their class list, their drunken pics and a million other bits of information that have turned Facebook into a disaster waiting to happen.

      In Facebook's defense, you can limit the people who see your profile to friend's only.
    • by absurdist (758409) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:07PM (#14742620)
      Life is NOT, repeat, NOT safe. No matter how much you may try to child-proof it. People die. It's inevitable. Some die peacefully in their sleep, some die horrible bloody violent deaths. It's all a crapshoot. Throw incredible stupidity into the mix, and you have the human condition. It exists on the net, and anywhere and everywhere else you have people.

      And BTW, your FOAF story reeks of bullshit to me.
    • Facebook isn't anywhere nearly as hazardous as myspace.

      For starters, the only people who can view your profile are those who go to your school or you have explicitly listed as a friend. You can also choose to restrict access to your profile even further to people at your school you have listed as friends, etc.... Facebook takes it a step further by customizing who can see what. Rigt now, anybody can see my picture, musical tastes, and other generic information -- only friends can see anything personal bey
  • Pure PR (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheCoders (955280)
    Seriously, what is a "safety czar" going to accomplish, other than blanketing parents with FUD? The only benefit I can see to this is that it will bring the issue of 'net safety to the forefront again, though the merits of that are questionable, considering the amount of hype these "internet stalkers" get on the local news anyway.

    Parents, listen up! Do not let the safety czar be in charge deciding what's right for your kids. The only people who should be making those type of decisions are you, the parent
    • Before you get modded up too far.

      Did it ever occur to you that the Safety Czar's job might be to get good information into the hands of parents abd schools so that the educators can do their jobs properly?

      There is always going to be a certain amount of FUD flying around any issue, if for no other reason than a small (and by small I mean large) group of Relegious Asshats are running around screaming [X] is the devil and will make you go blind.
      • Did it ever occur to you that the Safety Czar's job might be to get good information into the hands of parents abd schools so that the educators can do their jobs properly?

        Sure, there's no danger of something like child protection on the Internet becoming politicized, especially under a conservative "faith-based" administration that is SO careful and thoughtful with the facts. No way this Csar will end up circulating hysterical "faith-based information," screaming about the need for Internet "control o

  • Daily Show Clip (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:37AM (#14742356)
    There's a hysterical clip [nyu.edu] from the Daily Show about this very topic. Wait for the punch line at the end.
    • I'll paraphrase it for people who don't want to click.

      On the downside, these social networking sites are filled with sexual predators. On the more positive side, these social networking sites are also filled with sexual prey.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:43AM (#14742402) Homepage
    I was 12 in 1995 when the Internet started becoming semi-mainstream. My family has had real access since about that time. We knew back then that you don't go revealing information online unless you're in a position to defend yourself. Now that I'm a man, I can handle some of my information being availible online where others can see it. I just took it as a given that there were bad people out there looking for victims. These kids don't.

    Maybe they can't learn the danger. I've had girls argue that they realistically should be able to dress like strippers, go anywhere and not even get cat calls. Sorry, but as much as I'd like to live in such a peaceful world, you cannot do that and be safe. You have to live with the realization that there are evil people out there who are quite willing to hurt you and yours. You have to live like you live in a world with both great good and beauty and great evil and ugliness.

    I think that the idealized vision of childhood that many parents have has contributed to these kids not understanding what is going on. The girls in particular are almost totally incapable of understanding that that 25 year old who wants to have a "heart-to-heart" conversation with a 15 year old is probably just trying to get some. They're special, the other girls aren't. I for one will disabuse any daughter of mine of this princess complex.

    Until parents raise their kids to become adults capable of living in a world where evil people exist and desire to screw over everyone else, no one will learn, and at this point I don't care. It's like the people who still get sued by the RIAA for copyright infringement. You knew the danger, you did it anyway. MySpace isn't the problem, the teens and their parents are the problems. Maybe if parents would stop thinking about the kids and **DO** something about the kids, they'd be safe and more mature. As always, it's easier to do nothing, complain and foist the problem onto others. It's your computer, your teen, your problem.
    • I've had girls argue that they realistically should be able to dress like strippers, go anywhere and not even get cat calls. Sorry, but as much as I'd like to live in such a peaceful world, you cannot do that and be safe.

      Not only that, but if you dress in a way designed to provoke a reaction, you had best expect one. It doesn't excuse the cat calls, and it sure as hell doesn't excuse anything more, but anyone who wants to dress like a hooker and doesn't expect to be treated like one is a fucking moron

    • So it all boils down to this: act like a whore and you'll get treated like a whore. So simple; so perfect.
    • Maybe they can't learn the danger. I've had girls argue that they realistically should be able to dress like strippers, go anywhere and not even get cat calls.
      I remember in a Spider Robinson book (Night Of Power, IIRC), a bodyguard was admonishing his young female client for "why you gotta make my job so hard" by asking her "would you walk around in Central Park with hundred dollar bills hanging out of all of your pockets? Well, by dressing like that, you're doing the same thing."
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:44AM (#14742410)
    .... How about partents take some responsiblity for what their kids surf?

    Nah. Won't work. Too much effort on their part.
    • The problem is slightly more complex than you obviously understand. I filter Internet access at home, and my daughter has been explicitly banned from myspace.com for the exact reasons everyone has been ranting about. She was lying about her age so she could talk to her friends online and meet new people. She was starting to get to know some people who were older and had expectations of behavior from her. Once I implemented a very strict Internet filtering at the house, she just logs on from the schools libr
  • Misleading title (Score:3, Interesting)

    by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:47AM (#14742440) Homepage Journal
    When I read the article title, I thought it was going to be made safer from a technical viewpoint. A little too much freedom is given in page design, resulting in the ultimate stress test for loading images in a single page in FireFox, over-decoration of a web page to the point of unreadability(how do you get a 50% pixel covering OVER an entire web page?), and the possibilities of trojans,etc.

    What myspace needs(besides bandwidth) is a "safe mode" where it uses the default CSS layout.
  • by Milio (651431) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:54AM (#14742513)
    So if the Drug Czar works to prevent drug use, and the Terrorism Czar works to prevent terrorism, what does the Safety Czar work to prevent?
  • by Stalus (646102) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:58AM (#14742558)
    Last I checked, MySpace isn't supposed to be open to those under the age of 18... which is why all of the 13 year olds on there have a profile that says that they're 23. Those under 18 are ineligible to sign up. Perhaps these letters to parents should mention that their children are lying about their age in the first place to sign in, instead of implying the MySpace isn't protecting their children.
    • It's 14, not 18. # Eligibility. Membership in the Service is void where prohibited. By using the Website and the Service, you represent and warrant that all registration information you submit is truthful and accurate and that you agree to maintain the accuracy of such information. You further represent and warrant that you are 14 years of age or older and that your use of the MySpace.com shall not violate any applicable law or regulation. Your profile may be deleted without warning, if it is found that
    • Actually, I think 13 year olds can legitimately sign up, but their accounts are marked as "private" (only people on their friends list can view the full profile) until they are 15.
    • If myspace actually were limited to those over 18, it would have what, maybe 10% of the subscribers it has now? Most of their growth is from people who aren't supposed to be there. Myspace is successful because kids lie about their ages.

      There's a good analogy here to bars and alcohol -- if you're 13 and go to a bar, you can't just lie to the bouncer, say that you're 23 and expect to get in.

      Myspace has created a web site that is very attractive for kids. They benefit from the large number of kids who lie
  • by gurutechanimal (629949) <atheist_gospel@ y a h o o . c om> on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:03PM (#14742596) Homepage
    The term "czar" has a special place in the lexicon of politics, both corporate and government. Whenever there's a situation that has no fix (or no fix that can be reasonably attained), the powers-that-be appoint a czar to oversee the situation.

    For example, in the US govt there are appointed Drug Czars, Immigration Czars, Energy Czars, Education Czars, and a whole bunch of Czar's who oversee areas of policy that are not really meant to be improved, but still need to be shown as something that is being addressed and taken care of. Appointed Czar's usually have no power, very little budget, and are all show, appointed for the purpose of silencing and placating critics. The Czars don't actually have to "fix" anything, since the areas of policy that they're "put in charge of" are literally beyond fixing. They just have to show up to work and fight the good fight; in this way, the powers-that-be can say that they're doing something about the problem, while not actually having to allocate any significant resources to fix anything.

    So, when MySpace (or any other company or organization) appoints a Czar to make everyone safer, take it with a grain of salt. Czar is code word for "fuck off, critics, you're in the way of higher profit and/or control over our subjects".

    Just my $0.02
    • So, when MySpace (or any other company or organization) appoints a Czar to make everyone safer, take it with a grain of salt.

      Exactly. NewsCorp and Rupert Murdoch are not stupid. They bought MySpace to make money and that money comes from the 13 and 14 year old kids. They aren't going to do anything that will make it difficult for those kids to access the site.
  • by Shag (3737) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:14PM (#14742681) Homepage
    The mom and stepdad of a 14-year-old boy were, um, not amused to see a 30-year-old guy their son had met on MySpace. At 11:30 PM. In their son's bed. And he'd brought a gay porn DVD and 2 gay porn magazines with him, how thoughtful. Of course, since Hawaii raised its age of consent from 14 to 16 a few years back, said 30-year-old is now in deep shit, and will probably stay so for a "nui loa" time.

    Linkage:

    Police arrest man found in teen's bed [starbulletin.com], Honolulu Star-Bulletin
    Man Accused Of Luring Teen On MySpace.com [thehawaiichannel.com], KITV-4
    Man accused of using internet website to meet teen [khon.com], KHON-2
    Hawaii Too Soft On Online Predators? [kgmb9.com], KGMB-9
    Man, 30, indicted in sex assault on teen [honoluluadvertiser.com], Honolulu Advertiser
  • This is totally off topic, I know, but Warren Ellis rocks my world.

    Edison Hate Future [warrenellis.com].

  • by oPless (63249)
    and here I was thinking they were going to have a preferences panel to stop all the activex and flash shit that crashes camino.

    I hate having umpteen videos and mp3s and a dozen flash movies start all at once!

    Not to mention 1995 wanting their webdesigns back

    *sigh*
  • Free Advertising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nept (21497) on Friday February 17, 2006 @01:09PM (#14743230) Journal
    'News Corp. plans to appoint a "safety czar" to oversee the site, launch an education campaign that may include letters to schools and public-service announcements

    so free advertising for MySpace targeted at their #1 demographic? See kids, MySpace is dangerous. Oooh ... Ahhh ... Where can I sign up?
  • Everytime a teenager tries to view an inappriopriate profile they get a white screen that says,"Sorry! An unexpected error has occurred!"
  • A better idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MayorDefacto (586113)
    I would like it better if Myspace appointed a "pages-that-don't-cause-my-browser-to-buffer-overr un-and-implode-cazr" Seriously, those assholes who have 10 inline videos running at the same time should be lined up and shot.
  • But not because of paedophiles and whatnot. <caps> If you aren't supervising your kids when they're not old enough to know better, it's your fault. </caps>

    By the way: yes, [myspace.com] I do have a Myspace page. Apparently, I'm not the first person to create a Myspace profile just to tell Myspace lusers how much I hate them. :P

  • My sister has an account, and I created one named "Tom Therapist" (Tom The rapist) to see if she would accept his friend invite. She is 14 and my "character", Tom, was 29. He had no information listed, other than his name and age. She accepted, and she has waaaay too much personal info on her myspace.
  • EMO KIDS (Score:2, Funny)

    by Danzigism (881294)
    i'm personally just tired of emo kids.. the Myspace trend, just like New Wave and Hair Metal, will die out, and we'll look back and laugh at all the idiots showing off their stupid haircuts, and the guys that wear women's jeans with white studded belts..

    I also think Myspace is like a Lazy Man's Blog.. creeps rather check out how their lady friends are "looking" instead of reading about how they're "doing".. just another source of anonymity for stalkers.. screw SpySpace..

  • MySpace is being criticized for exposing children to risqué content and sexual predators.

    Oh, please! I get sick and tired of hearing it. On the Internet you can go anywhere and do anything. That means that predators are going to go the places the kids go ... just like in real life ... whether or it be MySpace, Yahoo Chat, AOL, etc. IMHO it's the parents and the pedaphiles who are at fault here. You need to monitor your children. You need to watch them when you go out and if you have a computer with

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