MYSPACE FACES A PERP PROBLEM
Over the past several months, MySpace.com has been hammered by media reports, portraying it as both a safe haven for sexual predators and a dangerous place for naive teens who post personal, and potentially damaging, information for all the world to see. In response, the Rupert Murdoch-owned company has boosted its security and public relations efforts.
All but one of the offenders Wired News found on MySpace appear to have been convicted of engaging in some kind of sexual activity with a minor. The other, one of the two probable matches, is listed as having raped, penetrated with a foreign object, and engaged in oral sex with an unconscious person.
On the surface, the ease with which these profiles can be located seems to undermine MySpace's claims to be cracking down on sex offenders on its servers. But even if the company wanted to use state sex offender registries as a MySpace blacklist, doing so may not be possible or even advisable. For starters, a registered sex offender is not breaking the law just by participating on the site. While a judge may on occasion require a convicted sex offender to, for example, stay out of internet chat rooms or avoid playgrounds, that order ends once a sentence has been served. Afterward, under typical state laws, the perpetrators' only requirement is to register with law enforcement agencies annually, and upon changing residences, for the rest of his life. Nor are convicted sex offenders violating MySpace's rules by using the site. Felons of every stripe are as welcome. In fact, the only people not allowed on MySpace are those under the age of 14, those who provide false information or fail to maintain the accuracy of their profile, or people who use the service unlawfully.