The other threat to

I previously wrote about the threat to if advertisers over-commercialise it. The success of MySpace is in the freedom it gives its (mostly) young subscribers to hang out online and connect with new and old friends - they don't want their space taken over by over-eager marketers selling them stuff.

An article in this week's Wall Street Journal online looks at another problem - increasing concerns about keeping MySpace a safe place for teenagers to visit.

MySpace has become the focus of criticism from authorities, teachers and parents that children are exposed to risqué content and are preyed upon by sexual predators who meet them on the site. Such episodes aren't unique to MySpace, but the site stands out because of its size -- 54 million registered users, with about 22% of monthly users under 17, according to MySpace.

In response, NewsCorp has promised to take "dramatic" action to address these fears. As well as parents, advertisers are also concerned and some media buying agencies have been questioning whether MySpace is an appropriate place for their clients to advertise.

So NewsCorp is caught between a rock and a hard place: impose too many controls and MySpace users will go somewhere else; fail to address legitimate concerns about safety and both advertisers and parents will turn against it. Let's see how NewsCorp deals with this one...

Posted by melvin | Feb 21, 2006 @ 2:13 PM | Comments (2)



You are spot-on here, M. There is a lot of press stateside about the dangers involved in teens offering up too much information on these sites, particularly MySpace. I ran into a friend recently who was the proud parent of a seemingly well-adjusted teenager - a fine athlete, personable, and a good student to boot.

Seems she checked out a few months ago, and has been in and out of psych evaluations and clinical exams since. Her dad blames this squarely on the internet, and MySpace. He is convinced that someone, somehow got to her. Sadly, she is a shadow of her former self.

Anyway, efforts to pinpoint what may have gone wrong have led them to do a bit of searching through MySpace contacts... they were able to get home contact info on most teens within minutes. If they can, so can a predator.

Obviously, the sites will have to go beyond implementing security measures, they willl have to do a better job of educating a over-trusting, unquestioning, naive teenage audience.

If the teens do turn their back on a site that becomes too controlling or regulating, there may not be many options in the future, as no one will want to be named in a lawsuit. I didn't see many napster wannabes after the shit came down.

Not to switch gears, but there's a new Lessig article in the March Wired. It's geared towards phishing, but the overarching theme is the same - there is a dire need for better security to protect those of us who embrace the open nature of the internet from the creeps and thieves. He explores Microsoft's InfoCard system, and how the public will be better off with it.

pazen :: February 24, 2006 3:13 AM

It's a worry, and the sad thing is that we've pretty much come to accept the exposure that our kids have to all the nasty stuff as the price we pay for the good stuff.

I think that many will embrace a well thought out and properly explained security system, but I can't see why it's taken so long to get to one.

Melvin :: February 24, 2006 3:31 PM

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