Abbot contacted executives of social networking Web sites in May of this year, asking that they strengthen safeguards against pornography and sexually explicit solicitations, according to a news release. The request came after the Texas Cyber Crimes Unit arrested three men in Texas who used Myspace.com and other Internet chat rooms to solicit minors for sex.
MySpace responded with plans to partner with Hollywood movie stars in launching national television public safety advertisements and a downloadable guidebook to Internet safety for parents. Abbot is critical of this initiative, "MySpace.com continues to resist implementing real reform measures, including age verification measures and filtering software, and instead offers window-dressing that offers no real protection to the millions of children and teenagers who use their networking sites and chat rooms."
Abbott again called on site operators to implement more stringent age verification measures to protect younger users. He pressed operators to upgrade their resources and utilize filtering software that would provide parents with the opportunity to block access to the sites at their discretion. He also stressed the importance of records retention to assist law enforcement in tracing complaints of online child pornography or inappropriate contact.
This comes on the heels of a $30 million lawsuit against MySpace.com by a 14-year-old girl who is claiming MySpace.com's lack of sufficiently protecting underage members led to her being raped by a 19-year-old man in a date arranged on the website.
Chris DeWolfe, CEO of MySpace, issued a statement to Dateline stating, "As we have stated in the past, MySpace is deeply committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all of our more than 63 million members," and added that they will "continue to take a leadership role in providing a safe community for both its adult and younger users and will continue to engage with the Internet's most popular and heavily trafficked sites for which these issues are equally significant."
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