MySpace Finds 29,000 Sex Offenders

MySpace Finds 29,000 Sex Offenders by Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press

MySpace.com has found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders with profiles on the popular social networking Web site – more than four times the number cited by the company two months ago, officials in two states Tuesday.

“I’m absolutely astonished and appalled because the number has grown so exponentially over so short of time with no explanation,” said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who also had pressed the company earlier for sex offender data.

Let me offer a potential explanation. Broadly speaking, there are two types of social networks on the Internet: 1) Those that offer an online mechanism for interaction between people who already know each other in the real world; 2) Those that offer complete strangers an opportunity to meet other strangers on the Internet.

In the first category are sites like FaceBook and LinkedIn, which are philosophically founded on the principle that relationships must exist before online links can be established. In those environments, it’s considered very bad form to solicit a link with someone you’ve never met in person.

In contrast, the second category includes chat rooms of all shapes and sizes as well as sites like MySpace that actively encourage (or at least fail to discourage) individuals to expand their personal network to include many people that they’ve never met.

If you were an Internet predator, which type of social network would you frequent?!

MySpace declined to comment on the figure, focusing instead on its efforts to clean up its profile rolls.

“We’re pleased that we’ve successfully identified and removed registered sex offenders from our site and hope that other social networking sites follow our lead,” MySpace chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam said in a prepared statement.

I would suggest that other networking sites that require (or at least attempt to enforce) that individuals know each other before forging online relationships will have far less cleaning up to do than MySpace.

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