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BizReport : Internet : January 19, 2007

Parents Peek Inside Children's MySpace Profiles

After four families sue News Corp’s MySpace, the social networking site unveils their latest technology in the fight against online child abuse.

by Helen Leggatt

Parents of MySpace users will now have access to the information their child enters in their profiles and homepages. In particular, their age. Many users aren’t using their real age, making themselves out to be older than they really are. The new tool, currently named “Zephyr”, will alert parents of the username, age and location a child lists on their profile, or personal page.

As a MySpace user myself, I fail to see how this would necessarily protect children from online predators who themselves fictionalize their age so they can mingle with the age group they are targeting.

Ultimately, MySpace had to get the balance right between giving parents the right to know what their underage children get up to online and deterring children from using the site, if they think they’re being monitored by adults.

Another approach could be to educate parents about the Internet and social networking sites, some parents still have to turn to their children for technical advice.

With MySpace filtering ads on their site by age, imposing honesty with age profiles will ensure that minors aren’t served up ads they should not be exposed to.

Tags: children, MySpace, security, social networking

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