March 31, 2006 1:05 PM PST

MySpace growth continues amid criticism

Related Stories

Two arrested in child sex Web probe

March 2, 2006

Rivals try to sing along with MySpace

December 12, 2005
Popular community site MySpace is signing up new members at record speed. But along with that growth, the site continues to be the target of controversy regarding the safety of its users, a core group of whom are minors.

MySpace, which has accumulated 67 million members since its launch in 2004, is currently growing by an average of 250,000 new members daily, said Dani Dudeck, a MySpace spokeswoman. That phenomenal growth rate has pushed its ranking among popular sites to a par with such notable players as Yahoo.

With that growth, however, MySpace has come under increasing scrutiny. Earlier this month, for example, two men were arrested in separate incidences for allegedly engaging in sexual contact with minors, whom they met through MySpace. One of the minors was 14 years old and the other was 11.

Ross Levinsohn, an executive with News Corp., which acquired MySpace last year , addressed the steps the site is taking to keep its younger members safe. According to press reports, Levinsohn, who was speaking Thursday before the Bank of America Media Telecommunications and Entertainment Conference in Los Angeles, noted that the site takes down offensive content, from nudity to racist material.

MySpace, which requires its members to be at least 14 years or older to use the site, also will remove user profiles that fail to adhere to its policy. Since its debut in 2004, MySpace has removed 250,000 profiles of underage users, Dudeck noted. Dudeck declined to disclose the total number of profiles that have been removed for violations of the company's policy.

Regardless, the number is likely to represent a fraction of MySpace's user base, said executives from rival community sites Friendster and Tribe Networks.

"We're probably taking down 1,000 to 2,000 a week," said Kent Lindstrom, president of Friendster. "Every community site has to deal with pornography, hate messages or violent content."

But if MySpace is wrestling with offensive or illegal materials more than competitors, it may have to do with two issues. First, said Lindstrom and Jan Gullett, chief executive of Tribe Networks, much of MySpace's trouble comes from the demographic it targets--the preteen and teenage groups, which often need more guidance about acceptable behavior. The second problem, said Lindstrom, is that MySpace adopted a hands-off approach to the site early in its evolution.

Such a policy fostered an "anything goes mentality" which created an atmosphere of permissiveness on the site, said Lindstrom.

"That goes a long way with teens and preteens," Lindstrom said. "We've always taken (policing the site) very carefully, perhaps to a fault. But on the other hand, the same kind of culture never developed on our site."

MySpace, however, contends that many of its users are much older than people realize.

"Nearly 80 percent of our members are 18 years or older, and that speaks for itself," Dudeck said.

She added that the company does not take a "hands-off approach" to its user base, pointing to its other ongoing efforts to keep younger members safe.

MySpace assigns roughly 90 employees, a third of its workforce, to the task of monitoring the safety and security of members, Dudeck said. Using search and algorithm technologies, MySpace employees will review information for such inconsistencies as claiming to be a 14-year-old member while putting information in a profile about a 7th grade teacher and class.

As a result of the site's research, members who are not 14 or older will have their profiles removed, she said. MySpace also limits the amount of information displayed on profiles posted by 14- to 16-year-old members. If those members want to let a person view their entire profile, they can accept the potential visitor's request for full access. But the individual who gains access to the full profile is prohibited from allowing others to view the profile, Dudeck said.

See more CNET content tagged:
MySpace, Friendster Inc., minor, profile, safety

26 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Its a parent's job
It's a parent's job to monitor what his or her kid(s) do online.

Myspace does what it can with 90 employees: Look for obvious underage profiles and remove them. Look for racist profiles and remove them.

The best way to stop grown men from meeting underage kids like that? A parent doing his or her job.
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree! It is a paren't job to parent!
But these guys aren't even doing what little they do very effectively. They are NOT responsible for child molesters but they could do a better job of keeping children off of their site.

One option is, instead of banning younger children, allow them as long as there is an adult account responsible for managing the account. REQUIRE PARENTAL APPROVAL BEFORE ALLOWING ANYONE TO VIEW THE PROFILE.

That's my two cents worth.
Posted by awalmer (4 comments )
Link Flag
I joined when
They promised me it was a haven for sexual preditors. lol
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well aren't you just a funny little puke!
GROW UP!
Posted by awalmer (4 comments )
Link Flag
What Research?
My 13 year old daughter has TWO accounts on MySpace, one about a year old and the other less than a year old. Of her "top eight" friends, 100% age 14 or under (despite what their listed age says)!

I say their "search and algorithm technologies" aren't nearly effective enough as she has, or had until I made take it off, her birthplace, hometown, birthdate, age, grade, school, and a whole bunch of other crap that the whole world does NOT need to see.

My question... What sort of security are they using to protect children?

- The don't even use something as simple as SSL when you login to modify your account settings.
- The don't enforce complex passwords.

There are any number of other steps that could be taken but if they don't use the two most basic I certainly don't have any faith that they are using anything else.

It's time to hold these people accountable for what they do or don't do!
Posted by awalmer (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nothing is safe
At least you are trying to police your daughter. The problem is not just the internet and/or myspace. Check what the 13 to 18+ year olds are doing in society... at parties... while staying overnight at a friend's, etc. All efforts at censorship are not effective (and not wanted). It is more important that our culture, the current way of life, gets cleaned up.
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Sure, and we'll hold you accountable...
Sure, and we'll hold you accountable for what you do and don't do as a parent!
Posted by anarchyreigns (299 comments )
Link Flag
Get used to it . . .
I just don't see the Genie slinking back into the bottle now. My kids are grown, but were they not, they certainly wouldn't have unrestricted access to any PC in the house, unless they'd worked and purchased it themselves, in which case I'd have to regard them mature enough to set the limits of their own internet fiction (lying). Sites like MySpace.com are pretty much fantasy worlds where anyone can be anyone, so you have to expect the full-spectrum of scum out there to join.
Posted by MrFishy (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ruined Family
Thanks to myspace.com, our family is feuding amongst each
other. And ID fraud in many forms have been happening
excessively.

I did a few things. The every kid in the family got a Mac of some
sort from me (I footed the bit). That killed lots of problems. The
second was erasing a good amount of the asked info from the
site, and now, after about a year, the fake apps and papers and
stuff in the mail have stopped. I've also installed other things,
but I'm into stuff like that (rotating IP box, etc. etc.)

Again, it's the parents who need to know what their kids are
doing. All of the computers in the house are in one room, and
I'm in the room if they want access. Password protected, so forth
and so on.

Don't chat with names they don't know, don't give out phone
numbers, etc. etc. I hear from many other parents about
myspace.com's problems. Well . . . I keep up on what kids do in
my house, I don't know about them.

Besides, the kids seem to hog the computers mainly for Sims 2
these days.
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Abvocation of parental responsibility
What we have here is another clear case of parents and the media trying to place the blame on somebody else. Rather than accepting the fact that it is a parents job to keep their children safe.

If a child meets a sex offender online, goes off to meet up with them, an dis abused. It's not the fault of the profile company, its the fault of the kids parents for

A) Not warning them about the dangers
B) Not properly supervising them while they were online
C) Letting them run off to meet a guy that they met online in the first place.

If parents talked to their kids and took more responsibility for them, rather than siting them down in front of the TV and the inernet all day, we wouldn't be reading articles like this.
Posted by perfectblue97 (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MySpace Meme
Prediction - Myspace currently has more than 50% of the highest number of users that it will ever have.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.realmeme.com/roller/page/realmeme?entry=myspace_meme" target="_newWindow">http://www.realmeme.com/roller/page/realmeme?entry=myspace_meme</a>
Posted by Broward Horne (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ridiculous
With literally everyone using the internet today, it is nothing but ridiculous to blame myspace for endangering minors. It is not myspace who is endangering anyone. It is the peoples choice to enact upon these actions. Myspace was not designed to bring child molestors and minors together...it was simply designed to bring the world together and communicate. In my opinion it should not be critized...even if myspace was not available, there are millions of other websites that bring people together.
Posted by peltm (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It was never meant for anyone under 18 anyway
I first of MySpace last summer from friends. When I looked into it, I could tell it was a free place for adults to "cleanly" explore their seedy side. Most of the profiles I see are one step from Porn -- not that I'm complaining. I can't why people are surprized at the attention the site gets. One part of me thinks its way too tame. It is FREE and The INTERNET.
Posted by kakphoto (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OR
You simply befriend those that are your real life friends and work through those people. You don't add or "meet" anyone that you have not already met with your friend or atleast through them. Buddy System is there for a reason.
Posted by bobj123 (94 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stop complaining!
Stop complaining and controll your daughter. If you think its wrong
dont let your daughter do it. There are many things you can put on
the computer to restrict her access all together. If she started
dialng 1-900- pnone numbers you'd probably call the phone
company and put a block on those numbers right? Same idea.
Posted by Amber Miner (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Parents vs. MySpace
There are too many people who say "it's the parent's job to make sure their kids stay safe on the internet" and leave it at that. Unfortunately, that statement must be followed with "And if the parents fail, society must step in". I say "unfortunately" because there are many instances where this must occur.

It's a parent's job to make sure their kids learn not to steal - but society must take action if parents fail. It's a parent's job to make sure their kids don't get beaten - but society must stop those parents who beat their children. It's a parent's job to make sure their kids learn about sex so they can be safe - but society must take steps to educate children who don't get that education at home.

Maybe some of these points can be argued due to individual philosophical and religious differences, but it's inarguable to me to allow children to suffer for the shortcomings of their parents. Our duty in society, our primary objective is and always should be, to protect our youth.

That being said, I do believe that MySpace <b>could</b> do more, but I think they are already taking all reasonable measures to protect the privacy of all their members. I don't expect my child's school to post police in a perimeter around the school every day during drop-off and pick-up. It would make my child safer, but it's unreasonable. I don't expect child services to post an agent in every house in the country. It would insure the safety of children with abusive parents, but it's unreasonable. And I don't expect MySpace to hire a crew of 10,000 (if that's even enough) to make sure they look at every single profile and remove all the bad guys and kids who post too much.
Posted by jecates (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It Takes A Village
The phrase "It takes a village to raise a child" holds very true. We all have a responsibility to today's youth. If each and every one of us thinks back on our child hood, can we honestly say that our parents were the only people in our lives that had an impact on how we developed into responsible adults? Human kind is not a solitary species. Our survival is based on a communal social structure. Children need guidance from more than just thier parents. They need role models. They need positive reinforcement for positive behavior. I see a great deal of promotion and positive reenforcement for negative behavior. It is not easy raising a child. Parents need thier communities to get involved. For businesses to step up to thier ethical social responsibilities. I am not blaming MySpace. I am not saying a parent is not responsible. I am saying that we should all be involved. Whether we are parents or not. The "It's not my problem" attitude is not helping anything or anyone.
Posted by 2sasha3 (1 comment )
Link Flag
MySpace.com
Why aren't children learning to survive with the old-fashioned tool useful fear? Kids should be suspicious, and very afraid of real things to be scared of, so everyone can enjoy taking risks worth taking. Children in Kindergarten will find other kids or their parents after school doing crimes. Every community has registered sex offenders by the score living near schools, nice suburbs, and places kids like to visit. So all kinds of predators like to use the Internet instead of giving away music CDs and moped rides. When old-fashioned Priests told people everyone should be afraid of going to Hell over every little thing they saw, did, learned, or enjoyed it almost passed for common sense about who or what is safe. So why isnt it enough to tell kids that any Internet communication could get them stalked, rapped, drugged, murdered, addicted to dope, brainwashed by cult leaders, in prison, or some other pointless suffering? Notice I say any Internet communication.
Posted by Stayuptoolate (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
MYSPACE.COM, No Good Conscience
I refuse to believe that nobility is just a state mind, that it no longer exist. I refuse to believe that a helpful hand is thing of the past, that each one of us are on there own in times of need. But comes a company like Myspace.com who makes me think that it is a thing of the past.

Just this month, my family went thru some tough times as our son had a lapse of judgement and runaway. Missing for 2 weeks but now He is back, safe with us once again. I have to tell you that it was the most grueling and worst feeling I've felt in my life. I don't wish this on any mom or parent.

For days there was no clue to where we could find him then suddenly we had a break. A popular site Myspace.com have the information that would lead us to where our son is. Unfortunately Myspace.com denied us of that information, sighting that it is a PRIVACY ISSUE.

Since MySpace.com Terms of Use Agreement under #12 Disclaimers. include the following,

"Under no circumstances shall MySpace.com be responsible for any loss or damage, including personal injury or death"

I guess they do not feel any kind of responsibility or have the GOOD CONSCIENCE of divulging that information that would lead to the location of a Missing Minor Child who they are aware could be in grave danger.

I am very glad we found our son, No thanks to Myspace.com. I am also very sad and furious that such people(Myspace.com Founders, Tom Anderson &#38; Chris DeWolfe), such company with NO GOOD CONSCIENCE exist.
Posted by RachelnCJsMom (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You seem to be missing something.
I'm glad for you that you got your son back. I'm sure it was, indeed, a rather grueling experience. However, it isn't MySpace's responsibility to keep track of where your kids are. Trying to foist off your parental duties onto an internet site is, well, irresponsible. MySpace has a past record of cooperating with the police in locating criminals. I'm sure they do everything they can when it's the proper authorities doing the asking. Look at it from their point of view, though. When it's just you asking where some child is, how can they know that you're really the kid's parent? You might be some creepy perv looking for an easy way to stalk a kid. And even if you can prove you are the parent, maybe you're some disgruntled divorcee trying to get around court-ordered visitation rights. Without access to court records, they can't know the truth. And that's only a couple of numerous plausible cases where giving you the kid's whereabouts would make them liable should anything happen.
Posted by lifeguardjay (3 comments )
Link Flag
MySpace caters to its customer....& IT ISNT PARENTS
As a junior high / high school administrator I find MySpace a scourge on our children.

I have come to explain to our parents that MySpace does not consider them the customer. Therefore, they will be given the runaround whenever they attempt to block their own children from developing sites on MySpace.

I deeply believe that MySpace is responsible not to these preteens, but to the adults raising them and the communities affected by them.

Let's come together as a society and put pressure on News Corp, which recently bought MySpace, to make a stand that supports the adults who are trying to assist preteens through these sensitive self-image forming years!
Posted by rbleboeuf (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Think About It!
The problem isn't MYSPACE. The problem is with the people, and not those, who are responsible in their behavior. Think about it!
Posted by easycatch (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Age & Identity Verification
Social networks can be safe if they use the technology from a small company called Genmobi Technologies, inc. Check www.genmobi.com
Posted by kalsandhu (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I believe it is the parents job to monitor there children when using the internet. Any of the sites could be dangerous. I have seen kids on myspace that I know are not as old as they say, and have told there parents. If a parent does nothing about it how can myspace catch these kids. They use false ages where they live birthdates. I think it is wrong of the kids to lie and even more wrong that their family values will allow them to.
Posted by calicokat (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.