July 1, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. - The social network MySpace has removed the online profiles of an additional 370 registered sex offenders from Missouri over the past four months, Attorney General Jay Nixon said today.
Nixon and other Attorneys General have been working with MySpace for more than two years to increase protections for young children and teenagers from online predators. That work resulted in a groundbreaking agreement announced in January.
The states pushed for changes after sexual predators repeatedly used the site to victimize children. As a result of the agreement, MySpace has instituted a policy of deleting the name of any user it identifies as a sex offender; that account information is then forwarded to Nixon's office.
"This has been a nationwide effort to protect kids that continues to get results," Nixon said. "MySpace has implemented several recommendations from the Attorneys General and from online safety advocates. We will continue our efforts so that not only are the profiles of sex offenders deleted, but also that MySpace and other social networking sites make significant strides to improve age and identity verification. We are working with MySpace to set the industry standard for protecting children from predators and inappropriate online content."
Nixon's work with MySpace has resulted in his office turning over to the Missouri State Highway Patrol 1,237 profiles that matched those of registered Missouri sex offenders; some individuals were found to have more than one profile. The Attorney General has asked the Patrol to examine the data to look for parole violations by offenders who may be barred from using a computer or from contacting minors.
In May, Nixon announced that he and 49 other Attorneys General had reached an agreement with Facebook, another popular social networking site, to protect children from online predators. That agreement also emphasized the four over-arching principles of preventing underage users, protecting younger users from inappropriate content, protecting younger users from inappropriate contact, and providing safety tools for the site's members.
Nixon stressed the importance of parents monitoring their kids' activities on the Internet, and of their reporting to law enforcement any suspicious activity they encounter.
"Parents still are the most important measure in protecting children from dangers online," Nixon said. "They should actively monitor their kids' online activities and talk to them frequently about the potential hazards on the Internet."