According to the news, MySpace recently deleted the accounts of 29,000 registered sex offenders. This is, of course, a good thing.
However, given the ease with which a person can create a false internet identity, I doubt this new action will have much of a lasting impact.
Some people claim that MySpace makes it easier for sexual predators and most especially those who target young children. This is, of course, true-such evil people can gather a great deal of information about potential victims and use MySpace and other such sites as a means of opening communication.
This does not mean that MySpace itself is a bad thing. After all, sexual predators can use a telephone to contact their intended victims and it does not follow that telephones are bad.
Like the telephone, MySpace does have its uses. Normal people use it to keep in touch with friends, make new friends and share idea, photos and such with the world. These are all good things.
But, people need to be careful and exercise good sense. Sadly, good sense is something that is not very common (which is why I do not call it “common sense”). One very good idea is to not let children have profiles on places like MySpace. While I am all for liberty and freedom of expression, it is reasonable to deny this freedom to children. It puts them at risk and there is really no compelling reason why a child should be posting information and photos for the world to see. While adults generally have poor judgment, kids have worse judgment and are obviously much more vulnerable than adults.
It is also a good idea for people to not post photos of children in public albums. While the media greatly exaggerates the danger, it seems wise not to take an unnecessary risk by exposing such pictures to the eyes of pedophiles. I don’t have any photos of my nephews on my pages nor do I have any photos of my friends’ children. If photos of children must be posted, it is a good idea to put them into private albums so random strangers cannot see them. Yes, it is sad that people have to worry about such things, but it is best to be safe.
Young adults and adults should also have better sense in what photos they post and what they say as well. It is amazing, and sometimes frightening, what people are willing to make public. I think people should keep in mind that places like MySpace are public places and anyone can see and read what is posted (unless it is private, of course).
That said, we should not be ruled by fear. The media regularly tries to create this culture of terror by running dramatic stories about sexual predators. But, they say little about the actual risk and the actual numbers. True-there are bad people out there and so being on MySpace involves some risk. But so too does leaving your house, dorm or apartment. As with the real world, the use of good sense and proper caution goes a long way. Be careful, but do not be ruled by fear.