The Blame MySpace Movement Gathers Steam

from the blame-the-party-that-has-the-money dept

The legal woes at MySpace keep piling up. Last summer, a mother and her daughter filed suit against the company, seeking $330 million, after a boy she met on the site sexually assaulted her. Now a new wave of lawsuits have been filed all on similar grounds, as the families of MySpace-borne sexual assault victims claim the company has been negligent when it comes to protecting its members from predators. Although the families' anger is understandable, the blame is clearly being misplaced. As we said after the first such case, if MySpace is somehow responsible for what happens on its network, then why not blame the ISP? Or why not blame a shopping mall if an attacker met their victim there? The families says that MySpace should have done more to enact security measures, but as the company's chief security officer points out, security is a two-way street. There's only so much MySpace can do, while the rest of the job has to be done by parents, who are in a position to teach their children about using common sense online. Somehow, we imagine, that the only ones who are going to benefit from this unfortunate situation are the lawyers.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Matt Bennett, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 12:06pm

    Under this logic, just about every college bar in the country is responsible for at least 3-5 date rapes.

     

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  2.  
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    Bumbling old fool, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    And that's "per nite"

     

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  3.  
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    Matt Bennett, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 12:15pm

    Hmmm, I giving young men credit for not all being scum. But it'd be a lot, anwyay.

     

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  4.  
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    Andrew, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 12:44pm

    "Gentlemen I propose we send a message to sexual predators everywhere by fining MySpace infinity billion dollars!"

    "That's the spirit Frank! But I think a real number might be better."

    -Adapted from Family Guy

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Reed, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 12:44pm

    Can not wait until I can blame all my problems on

    What are modern US laws coming to anyways.... Will we reach the point someday where we can all sue someone else for everything that goes wrong in our lives?

    I long for a time where an accident was just an accident. You know, when something went wrong you just accepted it rather than hire a lawyer to sue someone who had nothing to do with it.

     

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  6.  
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    MissingFrame, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    Accountability

    It's good that someone must have accountability for all these bad things, unless it's me ....

     

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  7.  
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    The infamous Joe, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    .....

    Is it April Fools day already?

    This is freakin' ridiculous.

    I got an idea.. maybe the guy who sexually assaulted her is to blame? No, he probably doesn't have millions of dollars they can squeeze out of him, MySpace must have made him sexually assault her.

    This really pisses me off. I need to go home and gank some people on World of Warcraft now. :-P

     

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  8.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:09pm

    I guess I'll go assult some one from My Space since nothing will happen to me the'll just go after My Space

    Seriously $330 million, against a web site that lets people talk to each other. has anyone been in one of thous AIM chat rooms? I'm sure that has caused this a few times.

     

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  9.  
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    Gottabekiddingme, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:09pm

    Outofhand

    The next thing you know, over weight people will be trying to sue McDonalds for supersizing thier Big Mac Meal Deal...

    I am not trying to downplay sexual assault- but this is beyond reasonable- it is correct that the only ones who will benefit will be the lawyers

     

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  10.  
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    Michael, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Can not wait until I can blame all my problems

    Amen. We need many more people who understand this making decisions.

     

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  11.  
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    BillGod, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:15pm

    This is like saying I'm guilty for killing those 3 college girls... oh wait, I am.

     

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  12.  
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    Xiera, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:16pm

    And we all know...

    That the victim will continue using Myspace.

     

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  13.  
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    Mathias, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:17pm

    Parents everywhere...

    Teach your children to survive in the world we live in...it's much easier than trying to change/control the world to compensate for your short comings.

    Otherwise we'll end up with a generation of clueless morons standing around complaining about how life isn't fair...not that we don't already :(

     

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  14.  
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    Carlo, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:19pm

    Parents are to blame

    Parents are the opes to blame. You are the guardian of your child you trust them to make the right choice. There fore you should watch what there doing just like any other "normal" parent would. The parents need to grow up out there and get a clue

     

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  15.  
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    KevinG79, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Outofhand

    The next thing you know, over weight people will be trying to sue McDonalds for supersizing thier Big Mac Meal Deal...


    This has been done. A few years ago two fat girls tried to sue McDonalds because they ate there EVERYDAY and it made them FAT. But somehow, this is McDonald's fault? People will do anything these days to make their sorry selves look good. Those girls got fat because THEY made THEMSELVES fat. But hey, let's blame McDonald's -- that's so much better than actually admitting they did something...bad for themselves. Good heavens, the horror!!! Can't possibly fess up to your own mistakes and poor decisions. What the hell is this world coming to. Bottom line: I have no pity for what happened to that kid on myspace. it is 150% the PARENT'S fault and NO ONE ELSES. Parents -- if you're going to have kids, make sure you're willing to be INVOLVED in their lives. Supervise them, love them, care for them. If not, please wear a damn condom.

     

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  16.  
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    danimal, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:24pm

    If they win...

    All I need to find is a couple of 16-year-old kids and a lawyer. 16-year-olds do it, girl cries assault, guy does 30 days in juve, lawyer sues MySpace - $75M each! Awesome!

     

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  17.  
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    etrim, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:28pm

    just turn it around

    MySpace should counter sue the partents for negligence. They did not protect their child by paying attention to what she was doing or educating her about the world.

     

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  18.  
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    buck, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    It's probably a conspiracy like the whole "finger in my chilli" at Wendy's. I hope myspace counter-sues for loss of time at work.. It's people like this psycho lady and her daughter that ruin cool things for everyone... how the hell is myspace moderators supposed to tell if he's a predator or not... if it's that obvious, then the little bitch should have known to stay away

     

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  19.  
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    john, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:34pm

    Who to Sue

    Sue Bill Gates there is over a 95 % chance the computer used ran a Microsoft O/S and Explorer was the browser .... Oh wait sue Bill twice

     

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  20.  
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    Jane, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:36pm

    hmmm, come party at MyHouse, I don't care what hap

    $300 million is without a doubt excessive. However, there is an issue of culpability on MySpace's part: They run a social-networking site; one of their main target audiences are under-age minors; there have been repeated incidences of assault of some minors by predators who MAY have been aided by their use of MySpace. IF MySpace is aware of these assaults and does not attempt to mitigate the dangers using reasonable precautions, then certainly the issue of liability is on the table. Let a judge and jury decide. You can factor the parent's responsibility in at trial and in any possible judgment for damages.

     

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  21.  
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    wowwie, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:40pm

    John what the hell are you talking about?...


    Myspace is targeted for people 18 and up... soo many people sign up and lie about their age, because they aren't 18 yet. This girl was probably one of them. Notice there was no age or name mentioned

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Jane, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:46pm

    target audience

    Eligibility. http://www.myspace.com/Modules/Common/Pages/TermsConditions.aspx

    Use of and Membership in the MySpace Services is void where prohibited. By using the MySpace Services, you represent and warrant that (a) all registration information you submit is truthful and accurate; (b) you will maintain the accuracy of such information; (c) you are 14 years of age or older; and (d) your use of the MySpace Services does not violate any applicable law or regulation. Your profile may be deleted and your Membership may be terminated without warning, if we believe that you are under 14 years of age.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:47pm

    The parents should be committed to a mental institution for being insane enough to believe someone else should be controlling what their children are doing, when it's CLEARLY their responsibility.

    Seriously - the state should question their competency, along with the rest of the idiots who try this.

     

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  24.  
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    well then..., Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:50pm

    good find jane you win a free bag of shit

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:52pm

    assault me...

    My address is 123 1st street. Come assault me so I can sue techdirt ;-)

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Jane, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:53pm

    RE: bag of shit

    way to heighten the discourse.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Mike, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:54pm

    Re:

    good find jane you win a free bag of shit

    OT: lmfao!

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Pele, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:58pm

    Re: hmmm, come party at MyHouse, I don't care what

    Jane, can you tell us what types of "reasonable precaustions" by MySpace would prevent such assaults?

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Jane, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 1:59pm

    The burden of proof is on the plaintiffs; I didn't say they have a good case. But there is probably enough to go to trial; if MySpace wins, then a precedent is set. However, by not responding to legitimate concerns regarding predators would tend to make a jury lean toward the plaintiffs. Decide the case on it's merits.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 2:01pm

    I was just talking to a musician friend who markets his band via MySpace. My quote to him was, "Marketing your band through MySpace is like saying, "I'm a moron! You can find my new CD in the discount bin.""

    Within a day he had bought the band's domain name, put together a decent site with plenty of mp3 downloads, a video or two, and a tour calendar.

    Basically, MySpace is dead. Beyond just not using it, people are getting their accounts completely deleted because they don't even want to show up on it.

    I'm sure that MySpace will contiinue to spin all kinds of absolutely fabricated traffic numbers, but they have one foot on a banana peel in their grave...

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 2:02pm

    Re: target audience

    From your own post

    "your use of the MySpace Services does not violate any applicable law or regulation"

    I'm sure soliciting minors for sexual activities counts.

    With however many millions of people using MySpace every day how can they see that one person saying evil things, if he said anything like that at all. It could have been "Hay were friends now. wanna get together some time" not raising any automated flags. Should have raised flags from her and her mother.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Jane, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 2:03pm

    reasonable precautions

    Here's one; didn't say it was effective, but it shows a pattern of responsible conduct on the part of MySpace.

    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/01/18/1168709870508.html

    MySpace 'spy' tool for parents

    The popular online hangout MySpace.com has been quietly developing software designed to give parents the bare-bones of what their kids are doing on the site.

    The tool, which will alert parents of the username, age and location a child lists on personal MySpace pages known as profiles, is designed to spark conversations about Internet safety.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    dorpass, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 2:10pm

    Re: reasonable precautions

    Oh yeah, and no kid has found a way to bypass parental controls before.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Jane, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 2:15pm

    Beyond Legalities

    There is another, possibly greater, issue here for MySpace beyond the legal. A bad reputation could hurt their business. See the recent TechDirt article regarding Ebay and this very issue.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Andy, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 2:22pm

    Re:

    Myspace is not a parent to the child responsible for sexual assault. It's the girl and the mom fault for not discussing the consequences for meeting someone from the Internet.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    safusa, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 2:44pm

    Blame

    This type of thing could have happened on any number of sites where you can register and create a profile with no validation. It could just as easily happened with AIM, YIM, ICQ. Parents need to teach their kids to be safe, you don't trust strangers and go met them on your own. I have 2 daughters that use the computer, I monitor what they do, I double check the friends they add to their myspace, etc. I have taught my daughters to becareful and not give out personal information etc. I don't see how they could have case against myspace, with out filing against everybody else that had anything to do with the network access, the ISP's, the cable company, etc. Because their kids screwed up they are tyring to put the blame somewhere else.

    I guess if they burned themself playing with matches, they would blame the match company too.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Jane, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 2:48pm

    Blame the matches

    Is that why it is harder to find "Strike anywhere" matches, and Bic lighters have child-resistant features?

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Davey, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 3:21pm

    I wonder if the guy called her

    or sent a text message? Then these leech people could sue AT&T for letting bad people use their service. Where did the lttle jerk meet her "date"? Maybe they should sue the city and the neighborhood and the restaurant or whatever, and the guy's landlord or mortgagor for letting bad people use their stuff. This clueless kid should hire this lawyer to sue her parents for raising her as an idiot.

    What we need a law allowing judges and juries to force the plaintiff and his attorney to pay the defendant up to the amount of damages being sought, if it determines that the suit is frivolous and predatory.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Sal, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Blame the matches

    I haven't heard about any people sueing Bic. Like the saying goes "When the mall security officers aren't looking, the girls get raped and assulted."

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Jane, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 3:49pm

    Blame the matches2

    BIC lighters loses lawsuit in Texas case

    Unsupervised child fire play resulted in severe burns to a six-year-old girl in 1998. A jury recently awarded the child $5 million in damages in a lawsuit against BIC, the alleged maker of the lighter involved....the lighter had inadequate child-resistant mechanisms. Expert witnesses for the plaintiff testified that BIC lighters did not meet the specifications of the CPSC standard for child resistance.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    me2, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 4:08pm

    whose fault is it???/

    initially the net was not invented for the purposes that many low-lifes use it for today. as all of the new services has come online..there was never any real intent to make it secure...just keep it lose and get it out quickly...and then work out the kinks later...although later never comes. instead we have a new world for sexual predators...identity theft and fraud...and the user is left to fend for themselves and in find small print somewhere is the declaimer...surfer beware...unfortunately when you are young...you don't always understand the fine print....so in the end nobody wants to take responbility for anything anymore.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 4:33pm

    People lie about themselves online?!?!

    If these girls aren't smart enough to know that not everyone tells the truth all the time then they are doomed to be screwed over by life in general.

    One thing-- in the discussion about ages above-- that everyone seems to forget is that if a minor is truthful about their age then their profile automatically becomes un-veiwable to anyone 18 and over unless that minor invites that person to be their friend. That is a perfect example of what myspace can, and has, done to change the game to help avoid these types of situations. The only reasons this suit has come up 1) precedent set by that last bitch
    2) that group that showed that myspace was capable of screening it's members list against the national predator list.

    Of course, if 15 year old girls would just stop lying about their age then those predators wouldn't ever have been able to befriend them and it wouldn't have mattered. Unless those guys lied about their identity, in which case the screening wouldn't have done squat
    Of course some of those cases involved same age male and female meetings, in which case the girls are guilty of a whole different type of bad judgment. And that is the parents fault for not raising children with the ability to take care of themselves/keep themselves out of trouble.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Davey, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 4:36pm

    Re: whose fault is it???/

    me2, please. There's no "fine print" that says "if you hook up with strange men you might get assaulted". It's just part of the common knowledge, like knowing you don't drink drain cleaner or play in traffic. The Internet has nothing to do with this, any more than the telephone, the Post Office, or the coffee shop or bar. It's just what used to be called common sense.

    Last I saw, the vast majority of child abuse is perpetrated by parents. But that doesn't get audience share like INTERNET PREDATORS -- IS YOUR CHILD AT RISK? The trouble with all this bullshit grandstanding by the media and the pols is that some people, like the jerkoff parents in this case, take it to be reality, and find some shyster ready to take their so-called case.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    AC, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 6:56pm

    sue 'em all

    Maybe next time a child gets abducted at the park while mommy's busy chatting the town should get sue's since they let the bad guys near the park.

    Whatever happened to "don't talk to strangers." Parent's used to be responsible for teaching their kids that...

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    hoolahoop, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 8:43pm

    parents these days have the mentality that they dont have to raise their children anymore, thats what technology is for (ironically technology they dont understand in the least bit)...because god forbid they would have to actually talk to their children or be a part of their lives.

    a lot of things dont make sense in this country anymore, the mass majority of the population is completley and utterly ignorant.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Chris, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 11:03pm

    Re: hmmm, come party at MyHouse, I don't care what

    Your argument is moot. Social networking sites are not responsible for what children do or don't do - the parents of those children are. If I were the judge in any of these cases I'd lock up the parents for child neglect. The issue is society, not web sites.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    KingofTheWorld, Jan 19th, 2007 @ 1:23am

    ISP's fault

    It's the ISP's fault for not having mandatory IQ test for subscribers. Idiots should not be allowed to use internet.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    The infamoue Joe, Jan 19th, 2007 @ 4:26am

    Re: reasonable precautions

    I hate to be the one to point this out, Jane, but that myspace parent spy tool only works if you assume the badguy makes an honest account-- how much to you want to bet it didn't say "I'm a 34 year old man who lives with his mother and likes to touch little girls."

    They're probably making pages to make themselves look like kids. That's the great(?) thing about Myspace. 14 year old little girls can say they're 18, and 34 year old perverts can say they're 16.

    Spying on your child won't fix it. Education is the only way to go.

    On another point, I'd like to hear what you and these parents think a good solution would be? Should myspace ask for your social security (or tax ID) number and perform background checks?

    It seems like a similar situation as youtube.. they aren't responsible for what you do/put up on their site, they're just hosting it for you.

    It's called personal accountablilty.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    name, Jan 19th, 2007 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re: reasonable precautions

    I totally agree with this. Pretty much everyone here who posted thinks it's the girls fault, including me. It's just rediculous and that's where it ends. Of course it's only natural to feel bad for the girl, but it would be morally wrong for myspace to give her a single penny.....

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Amerin, Jan 19th, 2007 @ 5:37am

    OK, so they sue

    I think the only way lawyers can collect when they sue, if they win, is to have a solution for Myspace on exactly what they should do to prevent this, how to implement it, and it would have to be reasonably cost effective.

    You can't just complain about the problem, if you cant come up with how to fix it. not just its your falut give me some money for pain and suffering.

    freaking lawyers.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2007 @ 5:56am

    Re: OK, so they sue

    Good point... but what are they going to possibly do to protect kids? The only way to verify them would be to get their credit card numbers, like adult sites do. There really is no solution.. besides taking away the originality of the site

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    QueenOfTheNile, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 12:24am

    Re: Re: reasonable precautions

    I see to it that my children don't go to MySpace. I'ts not a good place for children. I'm sorry but that's true. I have to keep track of who they're talking to. That's my responsibility. [don't clap or sneer]

    It's called personal accountablilty.


    You're right there. But how about social responsibility on the part of MySpace? This is not the first case that happened over that site.

    Though I believe that parents have responsibility and all those blame the parents blah blahs...what's MySpace going to do with it? It's a vicious cycle. I've never heard of it in other sites. It's always over there. What's wrong?

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Sadie, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 9:09am

    Come on, now. While I'm sure that these irate parents have enough to take Myspace to court, I'd be flabbergasted if they actually won. As other people have pointed out, they do take precautions about minors, but honestly there is only so much you can do. It's the internet! Stuff like this can happen anywhere online. When I was 12 I was using AIM chatrooms to talk to people, but I knew better than to give out any personal information. I rarely even told anybody my first name! Still don't, actually.

    My mother made sure that when I used the internet I knew what NOT to do. She kept the computer in the family room and I could use it when she was there. She trusted I wouldn't do anything stupid like give out my address or agree to meet some 40 year old skeeve pretending to be 14 because she had made the consequences very clear. That was her responsibility - to make sure I was safe when I went on the internet. Parents are responsible for making sure their children keep safe when they use the internet.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Sadie, Jan 22nd, 2007 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re: Re: reasonable precautions

    Seriously? When I was younger I was always hearing about girls who disappeared after agreeing to meet somebody over an AOL chatroom.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    sean, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 6:31pm

    parents

    ill admit it im a 16 year old and i use myspace...my parents dont like it but im smart the only people i add to my buddy list are people i know in person...its the parents and the girls fault not myspace.....wow some parents are idiots

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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