MySpace is known as Facebook's sleazy second cousin, but today, MySpace's turf is a lot cleaner. About 90,000 sex offenders and sexual predators have been identified and removed from the second-largest social networking site, the company reports.
Last year, MySpace was shy about its sexual predator problem. At first the company balked at upending the barrel of names for authorities because it claimed state and federal laws prohibited disclosure. Then, a few months later, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper claimed MySpace had at least 29,000 abuser accounts on its site. The number escalated as political pressure from Cooper and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut grew.
Both MySpace and Facebook agreed to the more stringent laws and implemented many new safeguards meant to protect children, such as finding better ways to verify age, banning convicted sex offenders from using the sites, and limiting the capability of older users to search members under 18. Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt claims, "We are glad to be able to report that we have not yet had to handle a case of a registered sex offender meeting a minor through Facebook. We are working hard to make sure it never happens."
It's important to note that Facebook's involvement with Blumenthal is still in progress -- soon, another huge number of perverts could be revealed to the public. In fact, Facebook may have become a haven for sex offenders. The makers of the software MySpace uses to hunt down sex offenders claim they have found at least 8,000 offenders on Facebook. Facebook denies the claim, saying, "When you search for people on Facebook, you don’t get much information -- a name and a thumbnail."
After this, and the passage of the supposed MySpace Law, great leaps are being made toward protecting children on social networking sites -- even as other sources cite additional dangers in cyberspace. And at what cost do these efforts occur? PC World writer Mark Sullivan posits, "Any person who is a registered sex offender has (hopefully) done the time and paid the fines, but should they lose their First Amendment right of self expression too? Social networking sites are meeting places, but they're also places for self expression."