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29,000 Perverts On MySpace?

by Sachin Balagopalan on July 25, 2007 · Comments

I guess being a new first time parent puts a lot of things in perspective, not to mention a change in one’s priorities. I was flabbergasted when I read about MySpace being forced to purge 29,000 profiles of sexual predators by state attorneys. First of all I didn’t realize there were that many of these lowlifes walking on our streets let alone owning profiles on MySpace. In a social networking site like MySpace, the majority of the profiles are of young kids and what better place for the predator to hang out . Kudos to the AG’s for clamping down on Fox (who owns MySpace) and forcing them to purge these profiles.

This reminds me of that NBC Dateline show “To Catch A Predator” - I think law enforcement officials need to implant decoy profiles on social networking sites and weed out these scumbags just as they do with online chat rooms. One of the suggestions I saw was to have a sexual predator register his/her email address just the way they do their home address. That obviously is not going to work - a person could have quite a few email addresses. Requiring parental consent during the registration process if you’re a minor? I’m not sure about that, I mean it’s probably a good idea but I’m not sure how it can be enforced.

I think the best solution is to build and develop some sophisticated user agents running in the background on these websites “snooping” for suspicious behavior. Law enforcement, psychologists, and techies need to get together and come up with a specification for the software based on their individual expertise. Perhaps some of the high flying VC’s who frequent the blogosphere can provide the funding to make this happen. I’m sure a lot of privacy issues will crop up whenever the “big brother” approach is suggested but I don’t care. When it comes to our kids all bets are off as far as I’m concerned. Parental-control software installed on the users computer also could play an important role as well in curtailing the sexual predators.

Regardless of the methodology implemented to catch the predators, I think we need to be cognizant of the fact that kids these days hang out in cyberland more than they do in shopping malls or anywhere else. The lowlifes of our society seem to have recognized that and have “moved into the neighborhood”. As parents it is our responsibility to know where our kids are at all times, however even sometimes that’s not enough.

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