Predators Invading MySpace

If you are a parent, you know social networking sites like MySpace are popular with teens.  On Tuesday, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said new numbers show they're also very popular with  thousands of convicted sex offenders.

Updated numbers show a staggering 90,000 sex offenders are lurking on the popular site MySpace.

"It demonstrates the continuing danger of predators online, on the social networking sites," said Blumenthal.  He believes there are plenty more out there using aliases so they aren't detected.

Last year, executives from both MySpace and Facebook made an agreement with 49 state to make adjustments to their sites to make them safer.  Both sites implemented dozens of safeguards, including finding better ways to verify user's ages, banning convicted sex offenders from using the sites and limiting the ability of older users to search members under 18.

Blumenthal, who received MySpace's updated numbers Tuesday through a subpoena, said the sites are still not doing enough to keep predators away.

"So far I would give them a C+ because they have taken some steps but by no means completely adequate and our agreement really obligates them in spirit if not in letter to do more", said Blumenthal.

MySpace executives said they were confident in the technology they use to find, remove and block registered sex offenders. The company uses Sentinel SAFE, a database it created in 2006 with the names, physical descriptions and other identifiable characteristics of sex offenders that cross-references against MySpace members.

MySpace, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., has more than 130 million active users worldwide.
A spokesman for Facebook, which claims more than 150 million active users, said Tuesday that protecting its users has always been a priority.

"We have a policy prohibiting registered sex offenders from joining Facebook," said spokesman Barry Schnitt. "We are glad to be able to report that we have not yet had to handle a case of a registered sex offender meeting a minor through Facebook. We are working hard to make sure it never happens."

Attorney General Blumenthal says there is more to be done and said Tuesday that he is not ruling out litigation or legislation to pressure networking sites to keep sex offenders out.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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