updated 1/27/2006 9:25:40 PM ET 2006-01-28T02:25:40

For Dateline's report on the dangers in posting too much information on social networking sites last January, MySpace.com would not agree to an on-camera interview.They did tell Dateline via e-mail that it prohibits posting personal information and has a team that searches for and removes both underage users and offensive material.

MySpace said it does not pre-screen the content of its more than 50 million members, but encourages all of them to exercise caution. Below, are their responses to Dateline's questions.

Question: Dateline interviewed at 13-year-old MySpace.com member who had no trouble creating her own MySpace page. What safeguards are in place to prevent anyone under the age of 14 from establishing a profile page on myspace.com?
Answer: We require new members to enter their date of birth and clearly indicate in our terms of use that people under 14 are not permitted to use the website. This policy is backed up by an automated search engine deployed on the site and a dedicated team at MySpace that sifts through the tens of millions of profiles to identify profiles that may belong to underage users. When alerted to the possibility that an underage user has a profile on the site, MySpace reacts quickly to investigate and take appropriate action, such as deleting the user profile. 

Question: Dateline NBC repeatedly found explicit content on MySpace.com member pages, including references to drugs, sexual content, and profanity. MySpace.com says it has “a full-time team of individuals consistently monitoring the site for terms of service violations and those believed to be underage.” How many staff members do you have that actively monitor myspace.com pages for such content? And if MySpace.com finds such content then what happens?
Answer: Although MySpace is an entirely free website, the company currently uses 1/3 of its workforce to scan, screen and process customer care requests and inquiries. It is important to note that MySpace, which has over 50 million users, is a modern communication tool like a cell phone, e-mail or instant messenger.  Like any of the providers of these other services, MySpace does not pre-screen the content provided by the users of its service but encourages all members to recognize the public nature of the Internet and exercise caution when providing any personal information. MySpace’s terms of use agreement prohibits— and MySpace discourages its users from— posting any pictures and or content that is offensive, hate speech and/or displays nudity or obscene content. In addition, the terms of agreement prohibits members from posting telephone numbers, street addresses, or last names to the site.

Question: What is the age breakdown of MySpace.com members?
Answer: We do not discuss the age breakdown, but 75% of our members are over the age of 18.

Question: Do you feel there are enough safeguards in place to protect MySpace.com users at the present time?  And is there any other information about MySpace.com that you think we should know in preparing our piece?
Answer: First and foremost, MySpace.com recognizes the anonymous nature and safety concerns the Internet poses and consequently treats safety and privacy of its more than 50 million users very seriously. MySpace operates under a comprehensive series of guidelines and solutions, which we believe represent the best practices in our industry. The company employs a dedicated customer support team that both provides members and parents with a mechanism to report on inappropriate content posted to the site and allows the company to rapidly respond to safety issues.  The company's guidelines include streamlined procedures for the law enforcement community to submit subpoenas and other legal process to MySpace in order to obtain critical data that may impact user safety.   Since the company’s inception, MySpace has met with law enforcement officials around the country to solicit their viewpoints on how MySpace can deepen its cooperation with law enforcement and enhance user safety.

MySpace is constantly engaged with local police and investigators regarding the safety of our users.  When public safety issues are brought to the company’s attention, the company cooperates directly with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to swiftly and thoroughly address issues at hand.

In addition, MySpace has the support of Parry Aftab, executive director of Wiredsafety.org, the world’s largest online safety and help group.  MySpace is actively working with this important advocacy organization to embrace its recommendations including a set of safety tips which are available on the website for both users and parents.  With the cooperation of Parry Aftab and Wired Safety.org, MySpace also posts user safety tips on the site. All safety tips are located in the bottom tool bar of every page of the site under “Safety Tips”.


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