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MySpace and US Attorneys General to improve online safety for teens

Rachel Hawkes (Social Media Portal) - 14 January 2008

Popular social networking site for teens, MySpace has announced a joint effort with 49 United States Attorneys General to increase the safety of young people online.

The announcement was made as a 'Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Sites Safety'.  The Attorneys General had high praise for the efforts MySpace has put in to date with regards to online safety, and hoped that MySpace's competitors would follow their lead.

Chief Security Officer for MySpace Hemanshu Nigam said, "We thank the Attorneys General for a thoughtful and constructive conversation on Internet safety. This is an industry-wide challenge and we must all work together to create a safer Internet. The Principles we have adopted set forth what the industry needs to strive towards to provide a safer online experience for teens and we look forward to sharing our ongoing safety innovations with other companies.

The Principles of Social Networking are:
  • Site Design and Functionality
  • Education and Tools for Parents, Educators and Children
  • Law Enforcement Cooperation
  • Online Safety Task Force

With the support of the Attorneys General, MySpace intend to set up an Internet Safety Technical Task Force (Task Force) which will include online businesses, identity authentication experts, non-profit organisations and technology companies.  The Task Force will commit itself to developing online safety tools, and ensure that all efforts are taken to accurately identify people using social networking sites.  Additional, they will report quarterly to the Attorneys General with a formal report expected at the end of 2008.

As part of the initiative, MySpace's parent company News Corporation have dedicated a senior executive whose job it will be to work solely on the Task Force and liaise with the Attorneys General.

Ernie Allen, president and chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has agreed that his organization will serve on the new Internet Safety Technical Task Force. "The collaborative effort between MySpace and the Attorneys General is a major step that will make using social networking sites much safer for teens."

MySpace have committed to making changes in the near future that will protect the safety of its users, particularly minors.  They plan to develop and offer free monitoring software for parents, and hire and report to an Independent Examiner (appointed by the Attorneys General Executive Committee) who will evaluate the social network's handling of consumer complaints relating to online safety.

To show how serious they are in making the Internet a safer place for children, MySpace have set-up a 24 hour hotline to respond to law enforcement enquiries and wil also implement measures that prevent users under the age of 14 registering on the site.

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