MySpace Boots 90,000 Sex Offenders
MYSPACE has booted 90,000 registered sex offenders from its popular online social-network,
it revealed this week.
Several US attorneys general subpoenaed MySpace, owned by News Corp, to tell them about
sexual predators on the social network.
Facebook has not yet responded to a similar court order, according to Connecticut
Attorney-General Richard Blumenthal.
About two years ago, MySpace began using specialised software to track down users
with convictions for sex crimes and bar them from the website.
The company maintains it is the first and only social networking site to use the
state-of-the-art technology, created by US firm Sentinel, to identify and remove
registered sex offenders.
"MySpace is proud of its leadership position and hopes that Facebook follows our
lead in providing their members with the same protections," MySpace said in a statement,
vowing to continue providing information for police investigations.
MySpace reported a 10 per cent year-over-year rise in users and a 36 per cent drop in
the number of registered sex offenders trying to create profiles.
US laws require convicted sex offenders to register names, addresses, tattoos,
and other identifying information in law enforcement databases.
MySpace uses Sentinel technology to check whether any of the estimated 600,000
registered sex offenders in the US are trying to use the website and then stop them.
Mr Blumenthal, who co-chairs a task force on social networking, said the figure
revealed by MySpace shows the threat posed to children online is being underplayed.
"This shocking revelation provides compelling proof that social networking sites
remain rife with sexual predators," Mr Blumenthal said.
"Law enforcement officials know the reality: children are solicited every day on line.
All too often, they fall prey."
Sentinel founder and chief executive John Cardillo, who spent more than a decade as a
policeman, said the technology his company uses at MySpace is highly effective at finding
and evicting known sex offenders.
Aside from consolidating registered sex offender rosters from throughout the US into a
single database, the system uses behavioural and technical markers to identify predators.
More than 20 states keep databases of sex offenders' email addresses to help determine
when they might be trying to go to websites or forums popular with children.
Former president George W. Bush in November signed legislation to build a US database of
email addresses and instant messaging names used by convicted sex offenders to keep track of them online.
Mr Blumenthal wants websites to have mandatory age verification, a demand that has yet to
be considered technologically feasible.
News Corp is the parent company of the publisher of new.com.au
Agence France-Presse (4-2-2009)