MySpace to block predators

From the Associated Press

The popular online hangout said Tuesday that it would develop technologies to help block convicted sex offenders, the News Corp.-owned website’s latest attempt to address complaints about sexual predators and other dangers to teens.

Santa Monica-based MySpace is partnering with Sentinel Tech Holding Corp. of Miami to build and deploy within 30 days a database that will contain the names and physical descriptions of convicted sex offenders in the U.S. An automated system will search for matches between the database and MySpace user profiles. Employees will then delete any profiles from the website that match.

Parents, school administrators and law enforcement authorities have grown increasingly worried that teens are at risk on MySpace and other social networking sites.

About 12% of MySpace’s visitors in October were under 18, according to ComScore Media Metrix. The tracking company counts the number of U.S. visitors who go on the site at least once in a given month, so the proportion of teens may actually be higher based on time spent.


The aim of such sites is for users to expand their circles of friends -- and critics say those circles sometimes come to include sexual predators. Wired News said a recent investigation turned up hundreds of profiles of convicted sex offenders.

Sentinel will build a search tool for MySpace using data from aggregators such as LexisNexis’ Seisint Inc., Sentinel Chief Executive John Cardillo said. The database, to be updated monthly, will include details such as names, age, hair color, height, scars and tattoos.