NEW YORK – Attorney General Tom Corbett along with Attorneys General from 49 other states and the District of Columbia announced that MySpace agreed to significant steps to better protect children on the social networking site.
Corbett said that today’s agreement is the result of nearly two years of discussions between MySpace and the attorneys general. The states have urged MySpace to make changes after sexual predators repeatedly used the site to victimize children. Last spring, the Attorneys General pushed MySpace into removing 29,000 registered sex offenders from the site.
“My office has seen the number of arrested predators using MySpace nearly double over the past year,” Corbett said. “Today’s agreement makes it harder for adults to sexually solicit children online.”
As part of the agreement, MySpace has agreed to develop specific changes and policies to the social-networking site including:
-Allow parents to submit their children’s emails so MySpace can prevent anyone using those emails from setting up an account;
-Make the default setting “private” for profiles of 16- and 17-year olds;
-Respond to consumers within 72 hours to inappropriate content complaints;
-Commit more staff and/or resources to review and classify photographs and discussion groups;
-Strengthen software identifying underage users;
-Retain a contractor to better identify and expunge inappropriate images;
-Obtain and constantly update a list of pornographic web sites and regularly sever any links between them and MySpace;
-Dedicate meaningful resources to educating children and parents about on-line safety;
-Create a closed high school section for users under 18.
Corbett said that MySpace, with support from the attorneys general, will also create and lead an industry-wide Internet Safety Technical Task Force to explore and develop age and identity verification tools.
Other social networking sites, age and identity verification experts, child protection groups and technology companies will be invited to participate in the task force. Every three months the task force will report back to the attorneys general and ultimately issue a formal report with findings and recommendations at the end of 2008.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit was created in January 2005 to conduct proactive undercover investigations in order to identify and arrest Internet predators before they can harm children. To date, the unit has arrested 117 predators from throughout Pennsylvania and from several other states, and has a 100% conviction rate.
Corbett encouraged parents to discuss Internet safety with their children, including the danger of meeting strangers who approach them online. Additionally, he urged parents to report predators who sexually solicit children or send sexually graphic photos and videos.
Internet predators can be reported to the Child Predator Unit by calling 1-800-385-1044, or by filing an online complaint. Detailed information about Internet safety is also available in the “Operation Safe Surf” and “Just 4 Kids” sections of the Attorney General’s Web site.