Skip to comments.Kids endangered at Murdoch-owned MySpace
Posted on 02/18/2006 7:47:14 AM PST by wagglebee
A website that encourages young people to post personal information about themselves and has been linked to a series of rapes and other crimes by sexual predators is wholly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which also owns the Fox News Channel.
Murdoch sealed the deal for MySpace.com and its parent, Intermix Media, for $580 million in July. When the deal was announced, Murdoch said in a statement: "Intermix's brands, such as MySpace.com, are some of the Web's hottest properties and resonate with the same audiences that are most attracted to Fox's news, sports and entertainment offerings."
California Web entrepreneurs Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe founded MySpace.com two years ago after envisioning Net surfers having personal websites where they could upload photos and sound files easily, and disclose as much personal information as they wanted. At last count, over 55 million people had "space" on the site, including countless teenagers who use their pages to communicate their thoughts on everything from school to music to the opposite sex.
Law enforcement officials, however, believe teens are disclosing way too much information for their own good.
When young people post their cell-phone numbers, names of their schools and sexy photos of themselves (though MySpace says it prohibits pornographic pictures), they endanger themselves, stress authorities, who have investigated so-called "social websites" and linked them to crimes such as rape, molestation and even murder.
In Lafayette, La., last month a 16-year-old girl was attacked by a man who tracked her down at her after-school job. He had read details about her on MySpace.
In September, a 17-year-old freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University was murdered when information on MySpace allegedly led the killer to her.
Investigators looking into the murders of two other teenage girls, one in New Jersey and one in California, are trying to determine if information the two posted on MySpace helped the assailants.
In Middletown, Conn., police suspect that in the past two months, seven girls under 16 have been sexually assaulted by men they met on MySpace, USA Today reported. In most cases, the men who lured the girls said online they were younger than they really were.
The Connecticut attorney general's office is considering prosecuting MySpace for failing to protect young people and that threat has gotten MySpace's attention. The company released a statement saying, "We share [the attorney general's] concerns about the safety and security of MySpace, and we will be working with him ... to make our safety practices and procedures even stronger and more effective."
Some members of MySpace, which has been described by law enforcement as "a buffet for a predator," are even younger than 13. The Rutland, Vt., Herald reports one MySpace profile highlights an elementary school student. It shows the 11-year-old provocatively posed on a bed. Her profile listed her age as 19, but she noted elsewhere on her page, "I'm actually 11 years old."
Another page shows a coquettish 11-and-a-half-year-old girl with hands cupping her breasts, staring into the camera. Friends comment with replies such as, "You're hot."
"Kids are not connecting what they're doing on the computer with real life," Parry Aftab, an online safety expert who has advised MySpace, told USA Today. "They do not believe they're accountable."
So how big is MySpace.com? It has become so popular it boasts two and a half times the traffic of Google. And of those 55 million members, one-quarter are registered as minors. MySpace's rival site, Friendster, has 24 million members.
"Just about every parent is aware of it and every kid is on it," website President Tom Anderson told the Boston Herald. "Some kind of reaction (is expected) as MySpace becomes part of the mainstream."
But oftentimes, parents are clueless about the fact their children have pages on MySpace. One mother told the Vermont paper: "I was shocked when I saw it. [My son's] girlfriend's friend wrote some very obscene things about him."
Besides the crime connection, teens across the nation have been suspended from school for threatening classmates on MySpace. Many schools also have policies against accessing MySpace pages from campus computers.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is one of the organizations urging parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of social websites. The organization says one in five children who use the Internet are solicited sexually.
Murdoch hailed the benefits of MySpace last year when he purchased the company.
Young people "don't want to rely on a God-like figure from above to tell them what's important," Murdoch is quoted by BBC News as saying.
"And to carry the religion analogy a bit further, they certainly don't want news presented as gospel.
"Instead, they want their news on demand, when it works for them. They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it. They want to question, to probe, to offer a different angle."
Some critics believe Murdoch's News Corp could become legally liable for some of the lives destroyed because of MySpace, perhaps coming in the form of a class-action suit.
MySpace released a statement to WorldNetDaily about measures it is taking to enhance the safety of users, especially teenagers.
The company says it prohibits those under 14 from becoming members though due to the nature of the Internet, it is difficult to enforce such a rule. Also, MySpace says it limits access to pages of members under 16 to only those people they know.
The firm says it is dedicating one-third of its approximately 175-employee workforce to "policing and monitoring our site on a 24 hour, seven day-a-week basis to make sure our age requirements are met, and that inappropriate images are not posted to the site. The accounts of users who violate these policies are closed."
MySpace says it's "providing mechanisms so our users can report inappropriate content" to the site.
"Once we are alerted, we take prompt action that ranges from involving law enforcement officials to deleting a user from the system," the firm states.
"While MySpace continues to develop additional measures to enhance site safety," the statement says, "it is important to note that MySpace is a modern communication tool like a cell phone, e-mail or instant messenger. MySpace encourages all members to recognize the public nature of the Internet."
Radio talk-show host Jaz McKay of KNZR noted a pastor in Bakersfield, Calif., recently spent 30 hours online researching MySpace and came away with a binder full of documents and images some of which were clearly pornographic, he says.
McKay believes authorities need to investigate the site for violations of child pornography laws.
Noting the hundreds of millions the company was sold for, McKay asked on his show yesterday: "With that kind of money, why don't they hire more people to monitor the site?"
Daniel Weiss of Focus on the Family Action says the bottom-line solution is for parents to come to grips with the dangers of the Net.
Said Weiss: "Parents need to understand that anytime they let their kid go online alone it's as if they allowed a stranger into their child's bedroom and the stranger closed the door."
Tip #1 "Tom" is not your friend. :)
You aren't the only one who has him (he's there by default),
GOOFIEST thing because "Tom" is networked to everyone through SOME friend, "everyone" is in your extended network.
Friendster had this feature first and would tell you how many immediate, second level, etc.. friends were in your network (friend of of friend associations; ie someone is identified as your friend and then sum up all of their unique friends that are not currently identified as your friend).
Friendster never had the "Col. Sanders" figurehead that Myspace does with "Tom".
amen...lotsa youngbloods here don't get it
wait till they have children..lol
thanks for the reality check many here appear oblivious to
So... One should block "Tom".
Before that we panic over "rock and roll," comic books, and the silver screen.
Good point, I monitor all traffic out of my home router. Only possible at "friends" houses.
They could have attacked any of the blog sites, but Rupurt Murdoch is a natural first choice.
If the NEA is on the attack, then the NEA has discovered something that undermines their agenda.
How do you propose to keep your children away from internet porn?
Try 2000 years. Jesus predicated it, you shouldn't be surprised.
"He shouldn't have bought it"
Oh yeah. Ditto on that part of the story Wag
...A website that encourages young people to post personal information about themselves and has been linked to a series of rapes and other crimes by sexual predators is wholly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which also owns the Fox News Channel...
I admit I don't know much about MySpace... I just saw the Murdoch/FNC tie-in and am calling it to your attention...
Please FReepmail me if you want on or off my FoxFan list. *Warning: This can be a high-volume ping list at times.
That's what concerns me... our daughter gravitates to friends whose parents are their "buddies" and don't think they need to supervise their little darlings.
Makes parenting very difficult.
Castle Hills police said Rinaldini and an 18-year-old man met two Lee High School students after Rinaldini's friend corresponded with a 17-year-old girl on the popular Web site www.Myspace.com.
She invited her 14-year-old friend to skip school and meet the men at a Castle Hills home, where the four drank alcohol and became intoxicated, police said.
The 14-year-old girl, Detective Wayne Davis said, "doesn't know what happened. But there were certain things that indicated that something had happened to her."
Around 4 p.m., the men took the girls back to school where someone noticed they were intoxicated and alerted school authorities, who called police.(more at San Antonio Express-News)
It is definitely Rupert Murdoch's fault that this 17-yr-old exchanged emails with a stranger, and then dragged a 14-yr-old along with her for a rondevue.
True. They said the same thing about AOL a few years back.
MySpace is an excellent replacement for having to spend hours building a website no one will see. Instead you spend a few minutes, and promote it for hours and 100 people will see it. Or, you can put it in your tagline.
WOW! Thanks to your ping, which I thank you for from the bottom of my heart, I have called my daughter to tell her exactly where the calls to her daughter from Canada to CA have originated: this site, "My Space."
I don't understand why we need to defend Murdoch at all. Sure, Fox News isn't as nutty as CNN, but Murdoch knows that is what makes it sucessful. It isn't as if Murdoch has some kind of inner moral beacon guiding him to produce (relatively) unbiased news broadcasts, and FN would go as far left as any of the other networks if there were any indication that such a change would help the bottom line.
Moreover, everything else Fox makes is base, disgusting crap. Let the libs pount on Murdoch, I'll shed no tears.
Hillary's ideas about the village values are not the morals I was referring to. Hillary's village values involved socialized day care and socialized medicine. In Hillary's village they would begin liberal indoctrination from the onset, i.e. homosexual education (sexual diversity).
I just want adults to keep their pants and shirts on when they are in places kids will see them. Keep adult things private and available only to adults so that the public square is mostly harmless to children. If parents only had to worry about the internet, the job would be much easier. But we have to worry about teachers keeping their pants on and their lips zipped. We have to worry about television - even children's programming can be over the top. Gays parading down the street simulating anal sex on "pride" floats with city Mayors leading the way! This is Hillary's amoral village.
Is it just my imagination, or do conservatives invoke the name Rupert Murdoch in the same way liberals invoke the name Karl Rove? I guess that everyone's got to have a Bogeyman.
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