Amid an escalating debate over just how kid-safe social-networking sites are, Texas authorities on Wednesday announced the arrest of a sex offender accused of using MySpace in violation of his parole.
Jesse Clay Scott, 33, of Seguin, Texas, is just the latest of about 30 convicted sex offenders arrested to date by the Texas Attorney General's Fugitive and Cyber Crimes units for allegedly accessing MySpace in violation of parole conditions. Four others were arrested for allegedly using the social-networking site to meet and sexually proposition undercover agents posing as minors under the age of 15, the Texas Attorney General's office said in a statement and videotaped news conference.
Scott, arrested last week, allegedly used both his home computer and cell phone to access his MySpace account. He was paroled in 2008 after serving five and a half years in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, the statement said.
A MySpace representative said the News Corp.-owned social network is doing everything it can to keep sex offenders off the site.
"The safety and security of our users is a top priority for MySpace. We have removed and preserved the MySpace profile of this offender," Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace chief security officer, said in a statement. "We employ a best of breed solution that we continue to improve on an ongoing basis in an ever changing environment. We hope that the remaining 29 states, including Texas, quickly pass e-mail registration legislation so that offenders can be punished for providing false information online."
The arrest announcement comes one day after MySpace handed over the names of 90,000 registered sex offenders found on its site to the Connecticut Attorney General's office, which had subpoenaed the social-networking site last month for the data.
Sentinel, the technology provider MySpace uses to find sex offenders on its site, accused Facebook this week of having 9,000 registered sex offenders on its site in what looks on the surface to be a ploy to drum up business.
The use of social networks by sex offenders has become a hot topic. Attorneys general claim the sites are not kid-safe if so many registered sex offenders are on there, while a recent report finds that those concerns may be overblown.