But who is she hanging out with And who is lurking online in the shadows of MySpace leering at the profiles of these vulnerable tweens While some have hailed MySpace as the greatest social experiment of the century, others have called it a Sears and Roebuck catalogue for pedophiles. Are these children age 8-13 years old safe on MySpace Or are websites like MySpace potentially dangerous for the pre-teen crowd
The rising popularity of MySpace has made this a timely and important question. Parents struggle to keep up with their Internet savvy kids who are always one step ahead. Security blocks and parental controls may be subverted when parents can't maintain a 24/7 vigil on their 10-year-old. Reports have begun to proliferate as predators find ways into the MySpace domain and use it as their personal hunting ground. Still, MySpace contends that it has taken steps to curtail the dangers and has committed to making it a safe meeting place for all ages. The public and parents need to be certain that the realm of online social networking is indeed safe for children.
This paper will attempt to answer three main questions. First, the paper will try to determine if a 13-year-old girl can sign up on MySpace and create the profile of an 18-year-old girl. This will determine if an unsupervised 13-year-old girl is safe in this environment. Second, it will try to establish whether a 35 year old male can register and create a profile of a 15 year old girl. This will determine whether any underage girl on MySpace is out of reach of predators. Third, the paper will consider whether the amount of information contained in the typical underage profile is useful to predators. This will examine the ways in which a pedophile might exploit what appears to be innocent information.
The research will be conducted by gathering information from credible experts on the topic of teenage digital networks. It will look at the statistics they present and the unique point of view that they offer. It will draw on personal experiences of those that have been members of MySpace. There will be no actual attempt made to register with MySpace under false pretenses just to prove it can be done. Rather, the paper will interview a computer security expert to gain insight into what flaws there may be in MySpace's registration and profile process.
Carlotti, Richard. Personal Interview. 21 Feb. 2007. Carlotti is a computer securities expert with a pharmaceutical chain. He has analyzed the MySpace registration process. He contends that to provide adequate security, the site would be unusable except by professionals. He said, "If it is designed to be used by teen-agers, the security needs to be geared toward them. Which means any one with a 13 year old mind can subvert the system". He further stated that there is no practical way to do age checking on the Internet and there is nothing available in the near future. He said identity verification on the Internet "could only be accomplished with expensive biometric techniques such as fingerprint readers or retina scans. These are the kinds of things the Defense Department uses, but not MySpace". Carlotti contended that the present registration method at MySpace is the honor system. It takes what you give it. He said that the limitation of contacting children under 18 merely requires a name and