Attys general pressure social networking sites to protect minors

Snip from WSJ item: "The attorneys general of all 50 states have joined forces to pressure MySpace, Facebook Inc. and other Internet social-networking sites to put in place greater parental controls and age-verification tools so minors can't access the sites so easily." Sites are under fire to voluntarily implement stronger restrictions and perv-nabbing technologies, but the group is also pushing for new laws and "public educational campaigns" to be led by the Federal Trade Commission. Link.

Update: Here's an extensive critique of the "29,000 zapped predators and counting" stat MySpace is touting. Link.

Update: danah boyd, who has researched and written extensively on this topic, describes the AGs' actions as a witch hunt:

The AGs have been perpetuating a culture of fear around SNSs for a long time now, but most of their fears are ungrounded. Research by Ybarra, et al. has shown that safety efforts have focused on the wrong things. (A broader roundup of research in this area is discussed at the Internet Caucus' seminar on the topic; video, audio, and transcripts can be found here.) The AGs have also been screaming danger since they learned that 29K people on MySpace are on the sex offenders list. BBC reports that there are over 600K people registered in the States (meaning that less than 5% of sex offenders have profiles, indicating that sex offenders are far less likely to have profiles than average adults). On top of that, most sex offenders on the list have nothing to do with children. (Stephanie Booth does a great job of discussing who all is on these lists and why.) Combine this with the National School Boards Association report that less than .08% of teens meet someone offline without parental permission and you realize that very few teens are at risk. MySpace and Facebook are far far far safer than most places that teens hang out (including their own homes, schools, churches, etc.), but the AGs gain a lot more public credibility by screaming "danger!" when talking about social network sites than they do when talking about homes, schools, churches, etc.

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