MySpace is many different things to many different people. To the young it is an online home where they can hang out, chat and discover new music for example. To Mum and Dad it is often seen as being something of a parental nightmare. To the tabloid media it is a hunting ground for perverts.
Of course, the tabloid press have never really had what you might call a firm grip on the realities of the Internet since the get go, so that kind of attitude is often treated with a large measure of incredulity. However, now it would appear that they might have had a point after all.
It seems that during the course of the last couple of years alone, MySpace has managed to identify and consequently banish no less than 90,000 registered sex offenders. The figures have been revealed following an investigation into social networking and sex offenders by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. An investigation which included a subpoena to get those numbers into the public domain.
While there is plenty to be pleased about, not least the fact that MySpace is obviously taking the problem of sexual predators very seriously and tackling them head on, the sheer size of the statistic raises more questions than answers I fear.
There's the problem that these people have got on to MySpace in the first place, and one assumes have done so in order to socialise with the young if not actively groom them. Then there is the small matter of common sense that says if MySpace has caught nearly 100,000 of these sick perverts then how many have so far remained under the radar? How many are currently online on this, and other, social networking systems posing as teens with a false name, false age and false intentions?
Blumenthal awaits, as does the media, the response from Facebook to a similar subpoena.
I wonder how many of those were real predators, and how many were underage kids who had sent naked pics of themselves to their boyfriends and girlfriends and got themselves marked for life for their juvenile indiscretions. That number is just so high!
OH NOES, sex offenders on the internet, in other news the sky is wet and fire is hot, news at 11. "Sex offender" is such a vague term that can mean almost anything, its like saying there are 1 million people that have commited a crime before on myspace
You know, parents really need to realize that they're responsible for what their kids are doing online. There are ways to restrict access and to monitor. And for heaven's sake, talk with your teens about this issue. I recommend this ebook about online predators, which has helped me communicate with my teens - http://www.dangeronlinepredators.com/