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MySpace Sued for Failing to Protect Minors
Teen, mom sue MySpace.com for $30 million
BennyBlanco




msg:277906
 2:55 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

[statesman.com...]

A 14-year-old Travis County girl who said she was sexually assaulted by a Buda man she met on MySpace.com sued the popular social networking site Monday for $30 million, claiming that it fails to protect minors from adult sexual predators...

...Attorneys general from five states, including Texas, have asked MySpace.com to provide more security, the lawsuit said. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent a letter to the MySpace.com chief executive officer May 22, asking him to require users to verify their age and identity with a credit card or verified e-mail account...

...Lauren Gelman, associate director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, said she does not think MySpace is legally responsible for what happens away from its site.

Damn! Watch this one. May have huge implications for user generated content sites.

[edited by: engine at 4:32 pm (utc) on June 20, 2006]
[edit reason] Added quote to link [/edit]

 

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:277907
 3:32 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

"MySpace is more concerned about making money than protecting children online"

Just like many people on the Internet. There must be effective controls put in place to stop people contacting minors. If no such controls are possible then the sites should be closed down.

Iguana




msg:277908
 3:38 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

If the case did succeed then it would have implications against every forum including WebmasterWorld.

Lilliabeth




msg:277909
 5:34 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

What am I missing? Why is it the site owner's fault that a girl met a man online and met with him?

If a minor came to this forum (for example) and met with a member who turned out to be a monster, would the site owner be to blame?

AWildman




msg:277910
 5:42 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

The more controls that are placed, the less user-friendly the site will become and the less people will use that site. Another easy-to-use, unsecured site will pop-up in its place.

Assuming that MySpace DID check the validity of the credit card numbers and the driver's license numbers they obtain, do they also have to check criminal backgrounds as well? Where does the responsibility for the company stop? The kid made a dumb choice. I'm sorry. As someone who met in person a guy I met on the internet, I think I can safely say I made a dumb choice. Thankfully, in my case, it wasn't a fatal choice, but it easily could have been...if my parents hadn't been so involved in my life, even as a late teen.

I understand that parents can't watch children 24/7. It is EXACTLY for that reason that parents need to teach children why meeting strangers over the Internet is not any different from meeting them in the real-world BECAUSE they can't monitor their childrens' activities when not in the same location. Don't give people too much information about yourself. Don't offer to meet in an unsupervised situation and/or without parental approval. Don't talk to people who make you feel uncomfortable. On and on the list goes.

How do proponents of tighter security on forums propose that stricter measures are put in place while at the same time allowing for ease of use? I'm not trying to bait anyone by asking this. I obviously have my point of view on this matter, but I would genuinely like to hear how security can be accomplished.

bunltd




msg:277911
 5:59 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Take out MySpace and insert "Starbucks" or "the mall" - would you sue them too? Kids hang out in lots of places and meet people, good and bad, all the time. Where does parental responsibility come in to play?

LisaB

woop01




msg:277912
 6:14 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

The lawyer is making the talk radio rounds today. He had no problem talking about how this was MySpace's fault but as soon as parental responsibility came up he talked about how nice a family they are and how they taught their daughter so well. When asked why they never taught her not to ditch school to meet some stranger from the internet he immediately went to the "I cannot discuss an open case" card.

He sounds like he's a member of the 98% of lawyers who give other other 2% a bad name.

walkman




msg:277913
 7:49 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

>> "MySpace is more concerned about making money than protecting children online"

and parents are more concerned with ...? I hope the judge fines the lawyer for filing this lawsuit. They might as well add Verizon, Sprint or whoever powered their cell phones; "they failed to protect her" too.

hannamyluv




msg:277914
 11:23 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I knew it was a matter of time.

I think that many people's thought on this are along the lines of the Catholic church and child-molesting priests.

You can teach your kids to be the best people in the world and unfortunatly part of that is to teach them to respect their elders.

Could you sue Starbucks for a sexual assult? Probably not. But of Starbucks was knowingly letting teens dance around half naked while also knowingly letting middle age men gawk at them, well you might have a case. Businesses have a responsibility.

Yeah, I know parents do to, but how can a parent who barely understands how a computer works keep up with a teen who can hold 5 IM conversations and shop online at the same time?

Dating sites seem to be able to keep their noses clean, why can't MySpace?

digitalghost




msg:277915
 11:34 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>Yeah, I know parents do to, but how can a parent who barely understands how a computer works keep up with a teen who can hold 5 IM conversations and shop online at the same time?

Easily. Spend time with their kid. Don't allow the kid to have a PC in their room. Keep the PC the kids use in a central location. Monitor email. Install a keystroke recorder and don't tell the kid. Don't allow your child to use something you don't understand. eh?

Don't allow ignorance as an excuse for bad parenting. The law doesn't allow ignorance as an excuse for breaking it...

jbgilbert




msg:277916
 11:38 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

If our government would get their head outta their $#^(*& and make the person suing pay ALL the defendants legal costs if they lose....... many of these lawsuits would go away.

Easy enough....... suit is filed, both parties have to begin escrowing costs, winner gets the escrow $$$$$$$.

[edited by: jbgilbert at 11:39 pm (utc) on June 20, 2006]

pageoneresults




msg:277917
 11:39 pm on Jun 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

All I can say is that our legal system here in the United States leaves much to be considered. How something like this can even begin and cost one person, one cent, is beyond me. I get a little heated under the collar with these frivolous lawsuits.

Yes, it opens up a big can of worms when it comes to online community building. It won't be long before you require a thumbprint and retina scan for registration. And even then, that doesn't provide protection. ;)

A 14-year-old Travis County girl who said she was sexually assaulted by a Buda man she met on MySpace.com.

What the hell is a 14 year old girl doing physically meeting someone they met on the Internet? I think MySpace should sue her parents.

Draconian




msg:277918
 12:20 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Because it's yourspace, not a dating site's.

mack




msg:277919
 12:23 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Big case of no perental supervision.

Mack.

Draconian




msg:277920
 12:41 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's a free country. The problem with freedom is responsibilty, and no matter what, there are always going to be irresponsible people in the world. That is why it is YOUR responsibilty to know what your children are doing at ALL times.

The very action of filing a lawsuit reflects just how bad this woman is at parenting. She's saying "Myspace, it's your fault my daughter did this, not mine." instead of "OMG, I'm a terrible mother to let this happen to my daughter. Let's not have this happen again."

If it wasn't myspace, it'd be Nexopia, or some other "online community".

Didn't anybody have CAP when they were younger? Where you were taught about strangers, sexual intercourse, and taxes? :p How about hiring some people fluent in the web to teach kids the DANGERS OF ONLINE PEDS! It's societies fault, and suing myspace will do very little or nothing at all.

Thoughts?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:277921
 7:42 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

The very action of filing a lawsuit reflects just how bad this woman is at parenting. She's saying "Myspace, it's your fault my daughter did this, not mine."

You don't know the facts so let's leave the parents out of it. It is entirely possible that that could happen to responsible parents. I suspect that many of you who are critical of them don't have the t-shirt.

Critical comments about the parents may be valid but as a separate issue. This is not about the parents. You can think what you like about them but it was the sex offender who committed the crime. This is all about a system that provided the means for a sexual predator to meet and molest a minor. It is NOT irresponsible to test this. If it is proved that they could have done more to prevent this then let them take the consequences.

rj87uk




msg:277922
 7:51 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Give MySpace they're money back this is nuts - Itís the girls fault. She should have had some common sense.

I think the website like MySpace / BeBo / ProfileHeaven (amoung the majors), are not to blame - yes have warnings and all that but as far as i can remember they actively promote safety!

Stupid, Stupid little girl. Stupid, Stupid parents.

Iguana




msg:277923
 9:53 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

a system that provided the means for a sexual predator to meet and molest a minor

Are you referring to MySpace or the Phone system? Both were used according to the report.

For those of you not in the 80 Million+ registered on MySpace: when you sign up you are asked for your birthday. You need to be 14 or over (but obviously there is no way for this to be checked). 14 to 18 years olds can set their Profiles to be private - they can only be viewed by people they have added as Friends. The browse people function does not allow you to select any age under 18. Your age is displayed on your Profile (The only material thing that makes it different from WebmasterWorld profiles/stickymail).

simey




msg:277924
 10:06 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

The easy response is that parents are responsible for every bad thing that happens regarding their children. Agree with a lot of that.

But sometimes technology outstrips peoples ability to adjust to it. in the 2000s

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:277925
 10:41 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Stupid, Stupid little girl. Stupid, Stupid parents.

Yeah! Everyone is to blame apart from the offender and the system that created the environment for this to happen. A recurring theme on the Internet.

Any company, like MySpace, that starts one of these chat/contact websites knows that they will potentially be providing a means for the perverts of this world to do their loathsome thing. I mean it is not exactly uncommon is it? They should be forced to put in place all possible protections or they should be closed down.

You can blame the parents if you like but do you also expect them to visit all their kids friends' houses to ensure that their standards are applied there or just keep them at home? Must they follow their kids around to ensure that they cannot access unprotected PCs in schools, Internet cafes, train stations, high streets or all the other places that they are now available? Must they stop them using mobile phones with Internet access?

No, I am afraid that it is the website publisher's job to ensure the safety of kids or indeed any adults visiting their sites. Why argue with the MySpace suit? Let the law decide.

"Responsibility: A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star".
Ambrose Bierce
The Devil's Dictionary
1911

oneguy




msg:277926
 11:24 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Any company, like MySpace, that starts one of these chat/contact websites knows that they will potentially be providing a means for the perverts of this world to do their loathsome thing. I mean it is not exactly uncommon is it? They should be forced to put in place all possible protections or they should be closed down.

You could say the same thing about anyone who builds a playground. I don't think I've ever seen a moderator, ID checker, or any other security measures in place at a playround.

What are all possible protections? I've never been able to look at the internet and say it's a place where children should be.

Why stop at myspace? Can we blame DARPA too?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:277927
 11:43 am on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

You could say the same thing about anyone who builds a playground.

Poor analogy. I don't think this is even remotely similar. You can spot the pervs in a playground.

Leonidas




msg:277928
 1:24 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Itís the girls fault. She should have had some common sense.

The point about children is that they often don't have common sense (they really, really don't: Common sense comes with maturity and experience of the world, which they just don't have.)

That's why adults need to protect them. And that's why adults need to exercise responsibility around them.

SincerelySandy




msg:277929
 1:25 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Must they follow their kids around to ensure that they cannot access unprotected PCs in schools, Internet cafes, train stations, high streets or all the other places that they are now available? Must they stop them using mobile phones with Internet access?

Yes! Parents must do whatever is in their power to insure their childrens safety. If that means knowing what goes on at the places their children hang out at such as the mall, a friends house, or online... then so be it.

Philosopher




msg:277930
 1:35 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

don't have the t-shirt

I've got 4 t-shirt's thank you very much and this is EXACTLY why my two oldest do not have computers in their rooms even though I have a couple of extra's not being used.

To say MySpace is at fault for this is ridiculous. If parents are going to allow their child to have a computer or access to a computer, it is their responsibility to protect their child by doing whatever is necessary.

As another poster mentioned, this girl could have easily met this person at the Mall instead. If she's that irresponsible as to meet a total stranger at her age with no supervision, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened to her.

It's sad yes, and I feel for her and her family, but learn to take some responsibility people!

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:277931
 1:36 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Time to get real I think. Aside from locking them in their bedrooms there is no way of knowing what your kids are up to at all times of the day.

Do you do this?

Visit Thailand




msg:277932
 1:36 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Stupid, Stupid little girl.

This must be one of the nastiest, and incosiderate (I could go on) things I have ever read at WebmasterWorld.

Step back and imagine if she were your daughter.

pageoneresults




msg:277933
 1:40 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

You can spot the pervs in a playground.

Actually it was a good analogy. You cannot spot the pervs in a playground, not all of them anyway. It could be anyone. It could be the Dad standing over there by the sliding board watching the kids. It could be that guy sitting on the bench that you don't even notice. These people do not walk around with signs that say "I'm a perv".

It all comes down to the parents and the values they are instilling in their children. If a child is going to have access to the Internet, then it needs to be restricted. And even then, a smart teenager (technical wise) may know their way around the restrictions and still get themselves in trouble. And, I've seen kids 12 and under who know that system better than their parents. They probably helped Mom and Dad set it up. ;)

Your kids are more at risk once they leave the front door of the house then they are online.

From the MySpace Terms...

MySpace.com is not responsible for the conduct, whether online or offline, of any User of the Services.

From the MySpace Safety Tips for Children...

People aren't always who they say they are. Be careful about adding strangers to your friends list. It's fun to connect with new MySpace friends from all over the world, but avoid meeting people in person whom you do not fully know. If you must meet someone, do it in a public place and bring a friend or trusted adult.

From the MySpace Safety Tips for Parents...

People aren't always who they say they are. Ask your children to be careful about adding strangers to their friends list. It's fun to connect with new MySpace friends from all over the world, but members should be cautious when communicating with people they don't know. They should talk to you if they want to meet an online friend in person, and if you think it's safe, any meeting should take place in public and with friends or a trusted adult present.

Within those Safety Tips pages are plenty of links to sites that discuss child safety on the Internet along with links to various software to restrict their access to the Internet.

How many parents are actually reading the terms of MySpace? Apparently this particular parent and child did not. So how does MySpace become responsible for this? What exactly could they do to prevent this from happening again?

Iguana




msg:277934
 1:56 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

MySpace have just announced they are introducing extra measures (not in response to this case they say)

[news.bbc.co.uk ]

Most of these measures already exist in some form. Since there isn't age verification, the reality is that parents will still need to give guidance and be watchful over their children.

Any suggestions how age verification could work for under 18s?

bhonda




msg:277935
 2:14 pm on Jun 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well I think it's always useful to look at problems like this from a high-level view (being a techie, and all!) - this is not really a new kind of problem for society here, it's just in a new form.

Basically, how I see it, some guy committed a crime using a website as his method. When I thought about it, and started pondering analogies, I thought about someone shooting someone else.

Say some guy picks up a Smith&Western shooter and shoots someone else. That's a crime. His method was that shooter. Following some of the responses in this thread, surely Smith&Western should be sued, for making it easy for someone else to commit a crime. It begs the question - who kills - the bullet in the shooter or the person holding the shooter itself?

Wouldn't all manufacturers of shooters be out of business now, if this were the case?

I think it's very unfair to blame the creators of something, if someone else misuses it to break the law. Obviously, if the creators encouraged or suggested it, then they are at fault, but as far as I'm aware, the creators did not have this kind of use when they invented MySpace. Criminals have used it for their own crimes.

Instead of blaming the means, look instead at the cause - there is a human out there who actually committed this. There is no one else to blame than the criminal himself. Don't pick on the victim. Don't pick on the family. Don't pick on the website.

B

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