MySpace Increases Security

According to CNN:

Besides the contact restrictions, all users -- not just those 14 and 15 -- will have the option to make only partial profiles available to those not already on their friends list.

All users also will get an option to prevent contact from people outside their age group. Currently, they may only choose to require that a person know their e-mail or last name first; that will remain an option to those 16 and over, even as it becomes mandatory for those younger.

MySpace also will beef up its ad-targeting technology, so that it can avoid displaying gambling and other adult-themed ads on minors' profile pages and target special public-service announcements to them.

Honestly, this all sounds a lot more like cover-your-ass security than real security: MySpace securing itself from lawsuits.

"Safety experts" seem to agree that it won't improve security much.

Posted on June 26, 2006 at 8:20 AM • 31 Comments

Comments

Geoff LaneJune 26, 2006 8:38 AM

It looks like MySpace is going through exactly the same stages as phone chat lines. First a free for all, then some minor problems, then some cosmetic security followed by a requirement for proof of age. By the last stage the buzz has disappeared anyway and people have moved on to some new fad.

gregJune 26, 2006 8:38 AM

If the threat model is on the order of "prevent lawsuits" then it mite be called good security.

UglytruthJune 26, 2006 9:22 AM

"Honestly, this all sounds a lot more like cover-your-ass security than real security: MySpace securing itself from lawsuits."

Isn't that what security is all about, at least from MySpace's point of view?

John SmithJune 26, 2006 9:31 AM

Why is it always Myspace? How many sites are there that pose the same threats? Is it not the parent who should be watching the child? Maybe we should take the time and energy to go after the sexual offenders rather than the service. Who is committing the crime here?

RobertJune 26, 2006 9:31 AM

Well, the problem for MySpace is verification, and how much people are willing to put up with to use the service. Since it's free, they can't do too much without killing what profit they have from ads. A 14 yr old isn't going to have a CC or Drivers license to check against, so do you use their parents? A lot of parents would balk at that, ( and also the kids who don't want their parents to know about their MySpace page ). If you did use their parents CC as proof, then the predators would just use their own CC and say that they are the parent of the "teen" that is signing up.

This kind of security ( for a free, open service ) just cannot be accomplished over the net for a reasonable cost.

SavikJune 26, 2006 9:38 AM

The problem is not with my space. It is with the criminals and parents.

Solution:

1. Death penalty for 1st time sex offendors.

2. Flog parents for not properly raising and educating their children.

dhasenanJune 26, 2006 9:52 AM

Hm. How do you verify someone under 18 years of age? They don't hand out special credit cards.

Social security numbers do start with a prefix dependent on location and then have a predictable order for the second portion; you could get pretty accurate results by asking for the first five digits of the person's SSN, provided you're checking well populated areas (or at least areas in which your service is popular). However, I doubt people would be willing to give that information up.

Well, on second thought, I think they wouldn't mind so much. People commonly give out their SSNs. There are two difficulties: children would have to find their cards, and non-US citizens would be SOL.

Still, though, if MySpace can use SSNs for age verification, it should be possible for an attacker to find the proper ranges to use, and with little difficulty. It should only take about six or seven attempts, using binary search.

jammitJune 26, 2006 10:14 AM

This is another "save the children" alert, just like "this is only a test" alert.
The laws preventing convicted child molesters need to be enforced and beefed up. You can spend more time in jail for some weed than for "fiddling" with a kid. There are two things bad here. One is the molester having free rein, and the parents for not teaching sex to their kid so the kid can say no.

GregJune 26, 2006 10:20 AM

@Savik
lol...But

I have a 14yr old daughter, and i keep a keen eye on what she is doing on the internet. But its not posable (or healthy) to track her 24/7. Teens can do stupid things all on there own. In some places it is common for girls to lie about there age, even to "boyfriends" (aka the boyfriend doen't even know he's a sex offender yet..till the lawsuit).

The real reason this is news is because MySpace is popular in the US and it gives news sites lots of hits. I mean how many teens where abused in the last month, and how many were using myspace? Thats just not news people read.

jayhJune 26, 2006 10:39 AM

I'm sure it's still far safer than the local shopping mall. Alas this is the fear du jour, until the next one comes up.

The potential risks are something that even a teenager can be made to understand.

Void_RJune 26, 2006 11:34 AM

1) From MySpace point of view, this is the tightest security ever, tighter than a lawyer's tie, because it protects them from lawsuits.

2) @ Greg "Teens can do stupid things all on there own. In some places it is common for girls to lie about there age, even to "boyfriends" (aka the boyfriend doen't even know he's a sex offender yet..till the lawsuit)"

PARENTS, not the internet, should be raising children. If a teenager is well educated and a represents a type known as "sceptical, rational thinker" (c), he will not do "stupid things", I assure you. It is parents to blame, not some lousy site...

Some teenages, by the way, far exeed most "predators" in severity of threat they pose to society, and there ARE such teens out there on myspace... another one of terrible MySpace atrocityes - behold ;-)

http://www.fox30online.com/news/local/story.aspx?...

RichJune 26, 2006 12:14 PM

@dhasenan

Although most MySpace users are in the US, not all are. I doubt if there is any age verification method that will work internationally.

As others have pointed out, the ability to appear to be someobody else on hte internet has been around since July 5th, 1993.

http://www.epatric.com/funstuff/dog/

ProbitasJune 26, 2006 12:36 PM

@ Savik

I would guess that most politicians would vote for the second option, just to get the chance to watch their own parents being flogged.

AndyJune 26, 2006 12:57 PM

Security begins at home IMHO. Seriously, it's very difficult to protect people from themselves. And frankly I don't want that to become necessary in our society. If this happened over the telephone nobody would blame AT&T. But since it's happening over the big scary internet...

NateJune 26, 2006 2:11 PM

The majority of the responsibility lies on the parents shoulders. There is only so much that the website can do while still allowing teens to have the freedom of their own personalized page.

My sister was 13 when she got myspace, which absolutely scared my parents silly. They then asked me to sign up for an account simply to check on her myspace page to ensure them that she was not communicating with sketchy individuals or putting up entrancing photos.

I know that a majority of parents with young teens do NOT monitor their children's myspaces, and that is where the problem lies. If Katherine's parents had monitored her myspace, or even looked over her shoulder once or twice, they probably would have noticed her constant communication with this man. I can never see my sister being crafty/stupid enough to fall into the hands of some creepy man across the world, but the idea still scares me like no other.

NateJune 26, 2006 2:12 PM

The majority of the responsibility lies on the parents shoulders. There is only so much that the website can do while still allowing teens to have the freedom of their own personalized page.

My sister was 13 when she got myspace, which absolutely scared my parents silly. They then asked me to sign up for an account simply to check on her myspace page to ensure them that she was not communicating with sketchy individuals or putting up entrancing photos.

I know that a majority of parents with young teens do NOT monitor their children's myspaces, and that is where the problem lies. If Katherine's parents had monitored her myspace, or even looked over her shoulder once or twice, they probably would have noticed her constant communication with this man. I can never see my sister being crafty/stupid enough to fall into the hands of some creepy man across the world, but the idea still scares me like no other.

Quinn KuhnJune 26, 2006 2:13 PM

"Honestly, this all sounds a lot more like cover-your-ass security than real security"

Uhm, that's what happens when you make one-size-fits all solutions via government fiat.

There is effectively little competition in real security, and a great deal of just-do -what-the-gov-says so that we can cover our asses.

Think about the government privilege of "limited liability". This magical formula effectively eliminates the competition for risk assessment, and enhances the cover-your-ass and pass-the-buck mentality.

Bruce, the more you push for the 'proper' government standards the more you are likely to have businesses whose purpose will no longer be to compete with security but simply to follow the mandates word by word - i.e. to cover their ass.

Joe PattersonJune 26, 2006 10:16 PM

Sometimes I wonder how many people believe that MySpace "creates" pedophiles. I really don't think it does. It does, however, seem to be an excellent honeypot for them. My son's almost 3, and he doesn't have a MySpace account (or any other sort) unless he's both a *lot* smarter than I think, and very very sneaky. But I really feel like it shouldn't be impossible to teach him ways to spot people being dishonest (or honest, but still evil).

Think of this from the predator's point of view: log on, start searching for potential victims, while weeding out FBI agents, DateLine reporters, and the kids who are out to get *you*. How is this worse than forcing them all offline so that they have to nab kids on their way home from school the old fashioned way?

People just need to see this as an opportunity as opposed to a danger.

AnonymooseJune 27, 2006 4:10 AM

@Greg
"Its easy to spot ppl who arn't parents"

They're the ones who can spell?

FranciscoJune 27, 2006 6:20 AM

Maybe it's just me, but I would call a 16 Y.O. that goes all that way to be with somebody who's 20, and the 20 Y.O. guy "a couple". If my daughter wanted to something like that, I'd try to change her mind, and then go with her to meet the guy, same thing I'd do with a local, old-fashioned boyfriend.

GregJune 27, 2006 6:50 AM

@Anonymoose

Yea, and if i catch any of my kids with bad spelling in there blogs or otherwise, thay are grounded!!

;)

JungsonnJune 27, 2006 8:46 AM

Just a parents issue, it is so easy to give MySpace the blame for the assault on that girl and then filing 19Million $ for compensation. Those parents have no "Response Abillity"

so if they are assaulted on the streets, give the city the blame for there being streets to be assaulted on.

IMHO:
Insane if you ask me, for the love of God i do not live in such country (yet)

TerrySeptember 8, 2006 4:59 PM

I think myspace should be outlawed. It has caused MORE problems in our household of teens than anything else! We can not monitor them if a teen will NOT give you their password!!!! And what teen will. I even have it blocked but it comes up anyway! I hope they get sued by MANY more!

my2centsDecember 5, 2006 11:38 AM


In our current society and public life, girls lie about so much more than just being pregnant to trick a man into staying with them. Imagine yourself dating a girl and finding out about her real age. Imagine sleeping with a girl and then having her cry rape. Imagine a girl paying for dinner or your new xbox 360 and when you break up with her, she accuses you of pimping her.

Come on folkes we live in the real world. When a girl lies, it means nothing to the public. I mean she is a poor, innocent, soft, delicate woman, right?
and men are seen as manipulative user type assholes, right?

I make this point because there are alot of men sitting in jail right now, wishing that they have not taken a chance on a girl who would tell a lie on them, when they started to PMS. Men that become victims of women lying are laughed at by you and the general public. They are seen as, "they get what they ask for" if your going to be a player, then take what goes with it

But no man thinks he is ever going to be acused of rape or a sex crime. After watching the Dateline NBC story on male preditors anyone charged with a sex crime is automatically guilty in the eyes of the public and the media.

Now for gods sake if the guys is innocent, the shame and humiliation has already destroyed his family life and future chances of a decent job in the community. I know what your thinking, if he has a good lawyer, and he's really innocent, he should be able to prove that in court. Well come on, that bullshit and you know it.

If a girl lies to police, she will surely come to court, put her hand on the bible and lie in court. Would you really risk stopping and admitting that you lied about the whole crime? We live in a save yourself world, and no one would do that. Now, if it can be proven that she lied under oath, in court, what brave prosecutor or police official, wants to be seen as charging sweet innocent becky for purgery? They will let her go with what they call a "inconsistant statement" or simply put, she can't recall or doesn't remember at this time. So chances are the case is dropped, and the guy has to go back and face his life, his family, and the shame of his community.

The funny thing is, it doesn't make the splashy headlines of the media around the world

Hey, I have a very controversal idea, why not come up with a registry system on the internet for girls who lie in court or just set men up.

It would be a place where men could go and tel their stories. I know what your thinking, what if someone post something that isn't true about a girl.
God this is the internet, that's never happened before.

how come you can go on the internet and find out rumors about your favorite stars, and there is nothing they can do about it... Imagine if you met a girl at a club and became really serious about her, but started to see some really moody behavioral patterns, you know, fits of anger, i'm sorry, i love you, i hate you..You know, nutty stuff that would leave you to a violent domestic conclusion.

Well, you could simply just jump in front of your google, type in her name, and hear some guys story of how she almost put him away in jail, for an imaginary beating that did not happen.

Hey, i did say that this was controversial and hey, to deal with the nay sayers up front I am not a victim of this crime and no I don't think all women are bad, and I think only proven girls should be posted on the internet.
I truly believe that everyone has the right to tell their story in a free and open society without threats of being sued. Imagine if someone told you ahead of time, that there was a whole in the house that you were about to buy? but got sued for warning you...? basically what i'm saying, is a life is a life, and if a girl is willing to lie under oath to put a guy in jail, I would love to know more about her, so I can stay the hell away.
[B]
[COLOR="Red"]Well I've said my peace, go ahead let me have it, but first let me put my helmit on.[/COLOR][/B]

Broken HeartedJanuary 22, 2007 3:17 AM

Suppose you knew a 15 year old girl that met a 28 year old man in 2005 when parents were just discovering what a damn "MySpace" was all about. Her computer was taken away when her mom did a "check" and discovered the site that was "not allowed." For nearly 6 months, but she knew how to bypass the blocks for the school district and used the school computers to communicate with the predator and arrangements for a meeting. Sexual contact was made and my baby was disgarded. When a deep depression set in, it only took 8 weeks. Despite visits to therapists, psychiatrist and MD, we discovered our only daughter dead. Not just sexually assaulted, but DEAD !!!! Thank you MySpace!!!!! I still consider myself a wonderful mother, all of you parent bashers . . .YOUR child could be next. . .

RachaelApril 26, 2007 9:29 PM

I think myspace is fine for mature and responsible people. People just need to use common sense and not put their life on the their profile and so much personal information. You know...that thing called "common sense"

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