One example Webb uses to illustrate this point regards recent news stories about sexual predators and cyber bullies whose goal is to target innocent victims. Webb suggests that users who post sexually suggestive photos and outrageous comments are attracting attention to themselves, thereby making it easier for the criminal faction to find their prey. He concludes that it is MySpace itself which is responsible for the problems outlined in the article. It is my opinion, however, that while users who ignore online safety tips when posting information on MySpace could be putting themselves in danger, this is not the fault of the social networking site itself. Actually, use of the MySpace site can be advantageous as far as encouraging communication, but users must take proper precautions in keeping certain personal information private in order that sexual predators and other criminals are not given easy means to find their victims.
While many worry about Myspace as a venue for criminals, its proper usage will ensure it is not inherently dangerous. As UC Berkeley researcher Danah Boyd asserts, "It's a hyped up fear" (from Poulsen, 2). Regardless of age, Myspace users who exhibit some caution in what information they are posting online will prevent predators from easily finding them. The responsibility for exercising caution rests with the users themselves, and not Myspace. Kevin Poulsen, in his article, "Scenes From the Myspace Backlash", announces this startling statistic, "Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced...seven underage girls in one region of the state were fondled or had consensual sex with adult men they'd met through the site, and who had lied about their age. MySpace is a 'parent's worst nightmare'." Apparently the impetus for these crimes could be traced back to communication between online predators and the teenagers via Myspace. But is it proper to blame the website, or should the blame actually lie with the users themselves Oftentimes, teenagers post personal information on their profiles, allowing the public at large access to such data as their home address, phone number, and place of employment (Wilkins). Personally, I have maintained a Myspace page for years and I would never consider it dangerous; however, this is due to the fact that I don't post personal information. My own motivation for becoming part of this online community was due more to the fact that I could find new friends and others who shared my interests. Certainly, I do not wish anyone to know my home address and show up unexpectedly at my home. MySpace has exhibited due diligence in advising users not to post real information regarding personal addresses and places of employment, etc. so that online predators are able to track them down. My profile is in accordance with the suggestions of the site and therefore I have never had concern regarding my own safety. Ultimately, it the fault of the teenagers themselves for using the site irresponsibly and posting information in direct contrast to the advice of Myspace managers.
MySpace may be the biggest, most popular social networking site but it is not the only one. There are a whole host of other websites which market themselves as social networking