MySpace and Online Predators

Right after debating the role of age verification in Second Life, the announcement comes today that eight states think MySpace is not doing enough to block online predators or co-operate with authorities investigating crimes. This, of course, comes not too long after MySpace was given good reviews from a child safety advocate for their work in fighting online predators.

Are you scratching your head and going “huh” too? Which is right?

The thing that shocked me in the article is that only a few states – a FEW states – require convicted child predators to register their email addresses and IM accounts with the authorities. I assumed it was ALL states.

The states won’t even try to lift their fingers to track the online activities of convicted felons, and they have the audacity to point their fingers at sites like MySpace? MySpace, Second Life, and other online sites are trying to put in measures to protect under aged users. But, ultimately, we are talking about an online, anonymous environment where someone can just lie about their age, or even who they are. Forcing parental permission and age checks won’t always work. I support the efforts that these companies are taking to do something – especially since state officials aren’t. But should they have to be doing ALL the work?

If someone is convicted of being a predator – MONITOR THEM! Check their computers for usage – have all of their e-mail and IM accounts in a national database – not to mention the IP address of their computer. If we want MySpace, Second Life, and other services to protect our children – then give them the information they need to do it.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

One thought on “MySpace and Online Predators

  1. Matt Crosslin

    This is an issue that will probably go back and forth for a while. MySpace announced today that they would gladly release the records – if the states followed the law (Electronic Communications Privacy Act) and provided a subpoena. The states say they don’t have to provide a subpoena. MySpace is quoting a law, and the state attorney generals are just saying ‘we don’t usually do that.’ Come on, government people – get with the law here. Get a subpoena already!

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