Social networking site MySpace.com has been getting a lot of parents, teachers and even religious leaders concerned over the amount of information young people are putting out there on themselves. There is the added concern over what kids are actually doing on MySpace as well as who they are doing it with. I myself learned about MySpace about a year ago and have largely used it to spy on my own teenagers. I have been shocked more then once of what kids are into and what they are willing to post for the whole world to see, so much to the point that my kids are not allowed to access MySpace in our home anymore (sorry kids). They have to go to the library to access it and even the local library where I live is making it more difficult all the time for kids access MySpace.
What’s the big deal anyway? In a story by CNet that I came across today, they report that MySpace along with other Net companies and child advocate groups, are trying to calm parents concerns over what their kids are doing online. CNet reports that MySpace and other Fox-owned interactive media properties are hiring a chief security officer, Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam, a former Justice Department prosecutor who specialized in child exploitation cases. He will handle all education, safety, privacy and law enforcement programs for MySpace and other Fox properties. They have also hired roughly 100 new employees to handle security, customer care and to scout out inappropriate content or underage members.
“Lots and lots of parents want their kids’ profiles down, but we all need to take a breath and fashion solutions to address the real problem, which is how much information kids are putting online and who are they communicating with online,” says Parry Aftab, the executive director of WiredSafety.org, who has worked for years with MySpace and other social networks to design safety guidelines.
Ernie Allen, president of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children goes on to say, “Teens often have a sense of immortality. We want them to understand…that what they’re doing (when they post information about themselves online) is opening a window to people who may not have the best intentions.”
As a parent, I am glad to see MySpace reaching out to our concerns. They really have to because the growing concern over what our children are doing online is not going to fade away. In fact I am an advocate that all parents should monitor everything their children does online. What about their privacy? Privacy is to be earned because it is just too easy for children to get into trouble online (heck, enough adults get into trouble already).
The article provides further information on what MySpace does to protect children who are under the age of fourteen as well as some tips on what parents can do with their children that are above that age threshold.
On another note, I am exploring the benefits that MySpace might have to the search marketing space. Even though there is a lot of bad out there, there has to be some good as well. At least I aim to find out. So I have set up a SearchRank MySpace. For starters, I am interested to see what link popularity benefit might be obtained in linking from a MySpace domain to other sites that we are marketing. I also figure that more and more companies will set up profiles on MySpace in addition to their company sites so I might as well set ours up. I’ll report at a later date my findings on this experiment.