Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Family sues MySpace for $30 MILLION!!!

In the past few weeks there have been Stories in the news involving 14 year old girls & MySpace. With all the media attention on MySpace, it won't be long before outside forces try to change our experience here. The chance to have your voice heard is now. It will take only a few minutes to make a difference. Please repost this bulletin so that everyone can help get the word out. The more people that get involved, the better off we will be. If you don't speak out, others will determine how your MySpace experience will be in the future.
MSNBC reported a story about the family of a 14 year old girl who was abused by a 19 year old guy she met on MySpace. The family filed a lawsuit against MySpace & it's parent company for $30 million. They say that MySpace doesn't have any real means of preventing adults from targeting minors.
Recently the media also reported the story of a 14 year old girl who managed to get on a plane & leave the country in an attempt to meet a man she met on MySpace. The girl was stopped by authorities in Jordan, just short of her going to Tel Aviv to meet the 25 year old man. The media dubbed this girl the "MySpace Runaway".
The media routinely tries to paint MySpace as the main problem in this very serious problem of online predators who target minors. You probably have seen NBC's Chris Hansen in his "Dateline NBC" reports of the men who try to meet minors for sex. Chris Hansen works in conjunction with & local law officials. These people should be applauded in their efforts to help prevent online predators from being able to abuse minors.

The problem is a serious one. HOWEVER, it's unfair to say that MySpace is to blame. The primary blame is with the people who feel it's ok to target & abuse minors. In the Dateline NBC reports you see the people at interacting with the predators in chat rooms. The media never identifies these chat rooms that are used. It appears that these chat rooms lead to Instant messaging between predators & minors, which can lead to a meeting in real life. But it's always MySpace that gets mentioned, giving the impression that all online predators use MySpace to find their victims. This gives the public reason to single out MySpace, because they think this is the only place where the problem exists.
The next place to look at is the parents who have no idea what their underage children are up to online. Where were the parents in the "MySpace Runaway" situation? This girl managed to take a cab to the airport & then board a plane that took her to Jordan. How did she pay for the plane ticket? The parents need to take responsibility for their failure to monitor the girl's online activities, not to mention how she can access the means to purchase a ticket on an international flight & the cab ride to the airport. But the media didn't mention that all, they chose to point the finger at MySpace.
Then we should look at these children who are making poor decisions. You all have seen the bulletins here on MySpace that mention underage kids trying to be sexy and look older. Many of these underage girls use suggestive terms as their screen name, or use that language in their profile. I'm not trying to blame the victim here, but this is exactly the type of thing that the predators are looking for. It's not smart to tempt fate by doing this type of behavior. Maybe it's time to have the age limit raised to 16, rather than 14? It seems that they are too young to make sensible decisions, and that maybe they shouldn't be allowed to participate until they are more mature.
The people that run MySpace are already making some changes in an attempt to help protect minors from online predators. MSNBC reported that as early as next week, MySpace will institute procedures that will help prevent adults from being able to contact minors. Hopefully, this will be enough. BUT, it will only work if there is accurate means to identify a person's age. How many times have you seen people list their age as "14" or "99" so that they can't be found in a search?
You can bet that a $30 million judgment against MySpace will change things around here. If that happens it will basically be the beginning of the end of MySpace as we know it.
It will be only a matter of time before politicians & special interest groups try to regulate how we can have an online experience in online community websites like MySpace. These people usually don't have an accurate idea of what really goes on, they rely on the media reports to give them their info. And if MySpace is routinely being portrayed as part of the problem, then these groups will try to shut it down.
Think of how the P.M.R.C. got involved with the recording industry when they decided lyrics were offensive. It began as a way to protect minors from objectionable material. It ended up as a form of censorship. If we do nothing, it will happen to the internet.
The media needs to get the hint that MySpace isn't to online predators what Osama Bin Laden is to terrorism.
There are almost 90 million members here at MySpace. If we organize, we can get results. The more people that get involved, the louder our voice becomes. If it's loud enough, then outside forces won't be able to determine our fate for us. If you sit back and do nothing, then you allow other people to determine what you will be able to do - or not do.
Here is what you can do:
1) Repost this bulletin so everyone can get involved.
2) Contact MySpace and let them know that if a reasonable system can't be instituted to protect these underage children, then maybe the age should be raised to 16.
3) Contact the media and let them know that MySpace isn't the problem like they seem to think. Even if all you do is copy this into a mass email, that will help. I will provide email addresses below.
Remember, if you do nothing, you let others determine how you will be able to experience MySpace in the near future. This is your chance to speak out & let yourself be heard. Let everybody know that MySpace isn't what the media tells them it is.

Tucker Carlson -
DaySide -
Alison Stewart -
Wolf Blitzer -
FOX & Friends -
Keith Olbermann -
Bill O'Reilly -
Rita Cosby -
Greta Van Susteren -
Joe Scarborough -
Dan Abrams -
Fox News -