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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

US legal experts and MySpace target the exploitation of teenagers on social networking sites.

15 January, 2008
After so much bad publicity for social networking, MySpace has responded by leaping into the saddle with the US legal system and come up with a set of guiding principles for improving on-line safety for American teenagers.
With millions of youngsters worldwide enjoying daily access to social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, there is a high level of risk of exploitation, something which parents and the legal system are demanding action against and the responsibility for preventive measures fall squarely on the shoulders of the social networking site providers.

With a pre-emptive strike of sensible marketing and good PR, MySpace has come up with a set of principles for making the net safer for teenagers. The scope of these principles doesn't extend to the very young because MySpace operates an "over 14 only policy" so it is specifically targeting the 14-17 year old age group which is particularly vulnerable.

First and foremost in this set of principles is age verification with MySpace having set up a working group to establish a reliable system of age verification in order to enforce the over 14 policy and also to prevent adults approaching youngsters masquerading as their peers.

With more immediate effect than this, the company is implementing 100% image reviews, automatically setting all teenager's profiles to private and removing the profiles of known and registered sex offenders from the system.

MySpace is also establishing an internet safety and education programme to raise awareness levels within the community and enable parents to submit their children's e-mail addresses to a register of banned teenagers in order to prevent their offspring from accessing such sites.

Industry support of such initiatives as these are always welcome and although there are significant technical barriers to age verification and secure data implications for maintaining a register of teenager's e-mail addresses, there is at least some movement towards creating a more secure on-line environment to more vulnerable sectors of the population.
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