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Families sue News Corp, alleging MySpace negligence

MySpace announces Zephyr age verification system



2:32 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Four families whose underage daughters were sexually abused after meeting people they encountered on the social networking site MySpace have sued News Corp., the site's parent company, alleging it was negligent in not creating safety measures to protect younger users

MySpace announced Wednesday that it was developing software to allow parents to see if their children were creating multiple profiles -- one to show to their folks, another to show to the rest of the world. Dubbed Zephyr, the parental tools are expected to be available this summer.

from the sf chronicle:


4:39 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

"Personally, I think it is time for people to start realizing that the internet was not designed as a playground for children and that because the internet spans the universe, it is not ever going to become as safe place for children. "

Never come across a solitary soul that thought differently.

Fact is, neither kids, nor their parents, always know WHICH BITS are safe and whch are not.

By simply repaeting the mantra 'it's parental responsibility', rather than accepting ANY responsibility, it's only a matter of time before the bureaucrats impose some stupid, half-*ssed rules that mess it all up for everybody.

Like turkeys voting for Christmas ...


5:06 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I think the responsibility rests on both sides.

MySpace has dragged her feet, on acting. This isn't new to social networks. Twenty years ago social networks were called BBS, it just happens to be fancier today. BBSes had the same exact problems regarding content, abuse, and crime.

Families need to take responsibility for their behavior online. Parents & guardians need to get off their laurels, and parent. Children/teenagers need to be put in their places, and accept their position within the family and society.

This triggers so many concerns in my mind, I better stop now....


6:29 pm on Jan 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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the internet was not designed as a playground for children

But that is partially what it has become, whether we like it or not. It wasn't designed to sell things either but we have figured that out pretty well. Lamenting what it was never meant to be is akin to lamenting the "good old days" when a quality website contained hundreds of dancing hamsters.


2:08 am on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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iBILL, you're a smart and experienced guy and programmer. Can you think of any measures MySpace might have employed to either detect or reduce the risk of predatory behavior by adults or dangerous behavior by minors?

As webwork pointed out there isn't really any good way, from a programming standpoint, to "protect" minors.

MySpace thought of some - eventually. It was only fairly recently that they stopped allowing adult members to contact minors and view their profiles. And they only took this simple, obvious protective measure after many complaints. Sounds like gross negligence to me.

They created a site that facilitated predatory behavior. Adults could search for children as young as 14 in the category "dating". They could even browse by school, for god's sake.

They point is that they created this environment and were WAY to slow to make a reasonable effort (any effort at all) to protect it's younger members.


3:59 am on Jan 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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there is a reason News Corp hired Hemanshu Nigam, ex federal prosecutor for the US Department of Justice, as chief security officer "to oversee safety, education and privacy programs and law enforcement affairs for MySpace".


3:38 pm on Jan 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Basically MySpace will have to lock down on their policies right after all the pr0n sites are forced to verify their "Are you 18+? Click Yes or No" entry pages.

Never gonna happen.


12:01 pm on Jan 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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its not myspace problem.

I am sure those low life families of those kids want some $$$$ there is no other reason.


4:33 pm on Jan 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>>Never gonna happen

The difference is that MySpace and its corporate parent are a visible target with deep pockets. Big companies are held to a higher standard by litigation and regulation, or the fear of those actions.

I think MySpace will continue to take steps, some substantive, some for show, to demonstrate they are a responsible corporate citizen. At the very least, they will have to employ best practices for maintaining privacy and preventing predation. (That's not to say they will be 100% effective.)

Going back to the park metaphor... If your park is dark and unmonitored, crimes will occur and you will get sued. If your park is well-lit at night and patrolled frequently by security, you'll both cut down on crime and create a defense against premises liability suits if and when a crime does occur.


8:27 pm on Jan 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm not a big fan of the B&M analogies when compared to the net, but in any case how have none of us even mentioned Zephyr in this entire thread? Will this new parental monitoring tool work or not?


2:45 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

My guess is that a few parents will use the new MySpace tools to keep track of their kids. Most won't bother. I think most parents would prefer to have their kid sitting at the computer at home vs. out somewhere with "friends" doing who-knows-what. Compared to cars, teen drivers, alcohol, drugs, pregnancy, etc. the home computer seems pretty safe. Of course, occasionally the computer can lead to disastrous real-life consequences, but IMO most parents are happy to have their kids where they can see them.


10:17 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Fascinating converstaion by all. It certainly restores my faith in humanity that people are concerned, thinking and talking about there things. Hannamyluv, webwork, trinorthlighting and quadrille made some haunting argumentative points that are hard to work away from. I agree that this quandary is everyone's responsibility. Social networking is not going away. Like the atomic bomb, once it's been invented, it's here to stay. Now for the good of society and protecting our children (tomorrow's adults), we've got to work collaboratively to find solutions to steer this thing toward the good of man. We won't be able to keep every possible bad thing from happening, but we sure can try. There is programming that hasn't been thought of yet, technologies still to be developed, and creative solutions yet to be employed. MySpace is a double-edge sword for people that prey on our children. Yes, right now it is leading them to our kids, but it can also lead us to them. What about harsher penalties and swifter justice for those that choose children as their targets? Let a jury decide their fate.

We all need to be involved, ever-vigilant, and press our peers, our business leaders and government officials to think in the best interest of both mankind and ensuring all have life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Ironically, by giving our children too much liberty too young and giving them more than they can handle, we are possibly denying them these God-given rights in the future. And for God's sake, let us all exercise our right to vote!


5:16 pm on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Optional Solution:

Hook up NBC with NewsCorp and let Dateline do their next "To Catch a Predator" using MySpace. Both sides win (one gets paid, one gets ratings) and I bet you it will at least catch a few eyes, both among the child-rearing public and the possible predators.


1:18 pm on Jan 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Fantastic suggestion, Murdoch! I highly recommend you contact Dateline with your idea. With all the PR hotwater MySpace is in right now, they just might cooperate with this to prove they are not evil. And with all the news lately on captured kidnappers and child molesters, the news media may just jump on this. Law enforcement officials would need to be involved, but it may work, it just may work!

As far as what's in it for teens who use MySpace? They can help create a safer playground for all (i.e. their friends) by cooperating with this effort. Maybe throw in some college scholarships for degrees in criminal justice for those that really assist and help bring some of the offenders to justice?


1:31 pm on Jan 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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joined:June 15, 2005

As in Rupert? ;)


3:42 pm on Jan 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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LOL actually it's in honor of Mad Murdoch from the A-Team, but I see what you did there.

/not a big fan of the NewsCorp
//still respect the man for brilliant business decisions

This 45 message thread spans 2 pages: 45

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