In a deal announced today with 49 state attorneys general and Washington D.C., MySpace has put into place new measures to protect minors from sexual predators. (Texas is the lone holdout). The site, owned by News Corp., has agreed to independent monitoring and to work on age-verification technologies. It also agreed to, according to the WSJ:
• Allow parents to submit a child’s email addresses to MySpace to prevent anyone from misusing the addresses to set up profiles.
• Make the default setting “private” for 16- and 17-year-old users so they cannot be viewed by adults they don’t already know.
• Respond within 72 hours to complaints about inappropriate content and devote more staff and resources to classify photographs and discussion groups.
• Strengthen software against underage users.
• Create a high school section for users under 18 years old.
How long before the attorneys general ask other social networks such as Facebook and Bebo to sign onto similar agreements as well? Putting such protections into place is the price of being a responsible social network.
Update: For more, read this post on where FaceBook, Bebo, and Google’s Orkut need to catch up.