MySpace has over three hundred million users on its social network; adults, teenagers, and young children. After the Megan Meier MySpace hoax many parents became increasingly concerned about the safety of their young children and teenagers using not only MySpace, but other social networking web sites as well. To meet the overwhelming concern by its users this is what MySpace is doing to protect others from similar hoaxes.
MySpace has grown overwhelmingly over the past few years. It has become the second largest social networking site in the United States. It was bought by News Corp. for $580 million and has become a target for parents and law enforcement officials. They are mostly concerned that teens who register on MySpace will fall victim to sexual predators and adult harassment. With more than seventy million members, MySpace has been under an extreme amount of pressure to increase safety measures for young users.
MySpace.com has made some changes to their social networking website to increase security for young users as well as adult users. One of their changes was placing new restrictions on how adults could contact young users. In growing concern for children and teenagers, MySpace has made it more difficult for adult users to make contact or find young user profiles. Teenagers and young children are frequent and popular users of social networking sites and to ignore this growing concern would have been foolish.
MySpace also prohibits children under the age of thirteen from setting up accounts and will only display a partial profile of users that are fourteen or fifteen years old unless the viewer is on the teen’s list of “friends.” Users of MySpace will no longer be able to request joining teenagers that are fourteen and fifteen years of age unless they know the teen’s full email address and full name.
All users will still be able to view partial profiles of younger users but no adult will be allowed to view the full profile whatsoever. The only difficult part about trying to ensure that users can’t access young teen accounts is that MySpace has no way of verifying that users are submitting their actual age when they register, which for many parents is still a huge problem. Any adult can sign up or register as a teenager between the ages of fourteen and seventeen and request to join a young user group or friend list.
Although MySpace has made some changes to increase security among younger users, many parents feel that they are still not doing enough to provide a secure social network for teenagers. Most parents are being told that if they are not happy with the security measures provided on social networking sites that they might have to take matters in to their own hands. Some of those suggestions have been:
•Teaching their child how to use privacy settings so no unauthorized users can read their profiles and have access to their information
•Signing up and registering for MySpace themselves so that they can become familiar with the site.
•Learning their child’s screen name; becoming part of their friend list; knowing their password; in order to keep track of what is going on with their profiles and see who is sending messages
MySpace is doing more to protect others from similar hoaxes like the Megan Meier case but parents will need to take an active role in their child’s social network if they really want to know what is going on.