MySpace's Itchy Trigger Finger On Deleting Suspected Sex Offenders

from the whoops dept

With politicians breathing down MySpace's neck over the fact that some sex offenders might possibly be able to use MySpace (whether or not they're using it to commit a crime), MySpace has been very proactive in deleting profiles. A little too proactive apparently. It appears that some non-sex offenders are losing their accounts, and MySpace isn't being particularly helpful in re-establishing them -- claiming that they don't even bother to keep a copy of deleted accounts. This raises a variety of questions. First of all, MySpace can do whatever it wants in kicking people out -- so there's no legal issue here. But it does raise questions about how effective this whole witch hunt really is. People who actually plan to use MySpace for illegal purposes are most likely going to come up with some way of signing into the system without revealing who they really are. Meanwhile, simply kicking these people off of MySpace means that the ones who actually are predators will simply go somewhere else to prey, rather than being watched by authorities. It's hard to see how that helps anyone.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Chris, May 29th, 2007 @ 11:40am

    MySpace

    Or they'll just make a new account on MySpace with a different email address, if they haven't already. You can have as many MySpace pages as you want, so even closing down one account will not kill the hydra, so to speak.

     

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  2.  
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    sam, May 29th, 2007 @ 11:43am

    ... ummm mike....

    i would imagine it sure as hell helps myspace!!!

    in the event that there were a preditory person, who managed to do something to someone and it could be traced back to myspace as being the place where the connection/initial introduction/etc took place, then myspace might have a rather huge/ugly potential lawsuit on its' hands...

    rather than take a risk, if you identify someone, kick them off, and yeah, you're going to get a few who are completely innocent, so you given them an avenue to prove that they aren't who you think they are, and let them back in..

    besides, being off of myspace won't kill you or do you irreparable harm...

    peace

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2007 @ 11:55am

    Parental Approval

    I agree there are ways to get around it, however as a parent (although my child is not old enough to type - much less take part in a social network) I could see the value in being the site that attempts to weed out the filth. I still plan on taking part in their online activities, but myspace has at least moved up in trustworthiness.

     

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  4.  
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    Sanguine Dream, May 29th, 2007 @ 11:56am

    I wondered how long...

    it was gonna take before this happened. What myspace fails to realize is that now as soon as a known sex offender abuses someone that they met through myspace the first thing the victim is gonna do is sue that site.

    Don't get me wrong I'm all for protecting the kids and all but how much good is being done by deleting suspected offenders with little to no proof.

    Isn't it amazing how sex offenders still lurk around schools, in parks, and amusement areas but no one is trying to clean those areas up? The answer is simple, you don't make headlines trying to clean up "old" areas. In order to stay on the front page you have to venture forth and become the protector of children in a "new" frontier.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2007 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Parental Approval


    and MySpace isn't being particularly helpful in re-establishing them -- claiming that they don't even bother to keep a copy of deleted accounts.


    Thats the part that bothers me. I would forgive myspace for deleting my profile if they kept a backup copy that could be restored when I proved I'm not an offender. But why waste time on verifying someone's identity when you can get so many soundbites out of bragging about a "tough" policy on offenders who use the site.

     

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  6.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, May 29th, 2007 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    No it won't kill you but there is something in our Constitution about innocent until proven guilty. How would you feel if your MySpace page came down because they accused you of being a sex offender? How would you feel if other people found out? What if that person didn't know you and thought it was real? (as we have already seen, too many people take what they see on the Internet for fact.)

    This is the same "Shotgun" tactic that the RIAA is taking with their lawsuits. One wrong is too many.

     

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  7.  
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    GoblinJuice, May 29th, 2007 @ 12:25pm

    *cough*Moral panic.*cough*

     

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  8.  
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    Matthew, May 29th, 2007 @ 12:30pm

    Meanwhile, simply kicking these people off of MySpace means that the ones who actually are predators will simply go somewhere else to prey, rather than being watched by authorities. It's hard to see how that helps anyone.Again with the public-honeypot argument. You don't put a firebug into a tinder factory and wait for him/her to break a law. If the person is a registered-pyromaniac, you keep him/her OUT and AWAY from the matches to the best of your ability.

    Maybe it'd be nice if there was a way to keep them out, or merely tag the account in some way (perhaps dependant on the nature of the violation), but the broad-stroke method very rarely gets the job done properly.

     

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  9.  
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    Neal, May 29th, 2007 @ 12:49pm

    Watching

    I'm kind of curious how you figure authorities would be watching myspace (or other) predators to begin with? They'd know the predators were there. They could maybe view the pages and see who friends are. That's safer than not having predators there at all where kids can contact them to begin with?

    You write as though the predators are going to run from myspace to all the other places kids are. Dude, wake up, the predators were already at all the other sites. They didn't leave those sites to become a member at myspace, they just added another web profile to their collection. When the next hot kid's site appears the predators will flock to it too... and the next, and the next, and the next... and they'll be on them all simultaneously.

    Every site you keep them off, every profile you take away from them, is a move to keep them away from a few more kids. Of course this is all but moot since there's no possible way to prevent them from faking their details to begin with.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2007 @ 12:56pm

    ah well..goodbye MySpace I guess...no matter what a company is worth, when it starts randomly banning innocent users en-masse and then refusing to restore their accounts through a combination of not-caring and simple laziness, then the company tends to vanish pretty quickly....

    There are always alternative sites, but the big bosses tend to forget this in the rush to "protect the children!"

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2007 @ 1:24pm

    quote"No it won't kill you but there is something in our Constitution about innocent until proven guilty. How would you feel if your MySpace page came down because they accused you of being a sex offender?"

    Hate to break it to ya, but this only applies to accusation made by the government. It's a protection granted to us by the constitution FROM government.

    There is no presumption of innocence in regards accusations made by individuals. Several tort actions actually require affermative defenses, thus no presumption of innocence.

     

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  12.  
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    Dingus, May 29th, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    been deleted

    Myspace deletes accounts for MANY other reasons as well. Its owned by Rupert Murdoch, so censorship is just everyday life there. I have been deleted many times for posting links to alternative news articles in my blog. Also, if you embed the video "Loose Change" into your myspace page you will most likely be deleted within a few weeks.

     

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  13.  
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    michael, May 29th, 2007 @ 1:37pm

    Thanks MySpace and Attorney Generals

    I appreciate MySpace and the State Attorney Generals getting the sex-offenders off their site. It is very nice that they do this. That way the only people on MySpace are the murderers and drug dealers. Yep, that's right!!! There is no registry for them. Your children can be approached by a kidnapper, murderer or drug dealer and no one wants to do anything about it. Keep up the witchhunt. It is doing nothing to protect our young.

     

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  14.  
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    Ryan, May 29th, 2007 @ 1:38pm

    a better solution

    it'd be better to just ban the accounts of older people who have lots of kids on their account.

    What's wrong with a sex offender who only has friends his or her own age?

    This is nothing more than a PR move to get people to stop writing anti myspace articles.

    Sex offenders should have the same rights online as anybody else. If they're really dangerous, put them in jail where they can't get on the internet.

    If a judge has ruled that they don't belong in jail, then they deserve the same rights as everybody else not in jail.

    It's not like we ban convicted car thieves from using parking lots.

     

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  15.  
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    scate, May 29th, 2007 @ 2:00pm

    Libel

    Although My Space is allowed to kick people off for violating TOS (as long as they are not discriminating against protected classes) dumping people based on false accusations of being sex offenders may well open them to libel charges.

     

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  16.  
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    Legal beagle, May 29th, 2007 @ 2:36pm

    What people keep on forgetting is that the Constitution only applies to questions of a strictly legal nature. With MySpace, it's a private company. They can do whatever they want within corporate law, which probably includes banning members. Just because sex offenders may already be on other sites isn't a good enough reason to keep them on another one. They've already demonstrated the willingness and ability to do very bad things to innocent people. The arsonist argument applies: do you let someone who sets fires have access to matches in a wood shop?

     

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  17.  
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    puzzled, May 29th, 2007 @ 3:03pm

    Re:

    ---rather than take a risk, if you identify someone, kick them off, and yeah, you're going to get a few who are completely innocent, so you given them an avenue to prove that they aren't who you think they are, and let them back in..


    That raises a rather interesting question. How do you prove you are not a child molester?

     

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  18.  
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    Tom, May 29th, 2007 @ 3:14pm

    Re:

    70 million+ users. Deleting a 100,000 or so won't even make a dent. People will stay.

     

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  19.  
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    ehrichweiss, May 29th, 2007 @ 3:56pm

    Re:

    You mean an event like the type that have already happened like, say, the 14 year old girl who claims(the jury's still out on whether this was rape or I-have-a-guilty-conscience-now-I-cry-rape) she was raped by a 19 year old guy she met on MySpace? Where were you when there was a rash of those type of stories appearing on almost a daily basis?

    It's not MySpace's responsibility to make sure that you aren't lying about your age or make sure the guy you met isn't a real creep; that's either your responsibility or the responsibility of your parents depending on your age.

     

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  20.  
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    ehrichweiss, May 29th, 2007 @ 4:03pm

    Re: Libel

    I was thinking along those same lines. The big issue would be that they'd have to publicize the list of "offenders" for it to be as such but it only takes one retarded programmer to expose such a list accidentally.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2007 @ 5:30pm

    "say, the 14 year old girl who claims(the jury's still out on whether this was rape or I-have-a-guilty-conscience-now-I-cry-rape)"

    In most states 14 is below the age of consent. It doesn't matter if she cartwheeled into the bed naked with a "put it here" sign and a blinking neon arrow. 14 is too young to give consent, thus willing or not, it's rape.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2007 @ 5:56pm

    you are wrong

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2007 @ 5:58pm

    Sex offenders shouldnt even have a computer. I like what myspace is doing to help

     

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  24.  
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    Glen, May 29th, 2007 @ 7:57pm

    MySpace can do what it wants. It's there sight. If people don't like it they can go somewhere else. What's the big deal? They aren't breaking any laws.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2007 @ 9:45pm

    Re:

    You're right it is rape but is it the fault of myspace (which is owned by a millionaire) or the fault of the rapists (who is more than likely not a millionaire)?

    Does this mean the next time a child is kidnapped from Central Park and abused the parents should sue the city since the city of NY didn't protect their child while at the park?

     

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  26.  
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    flicmod, May 30th, 2007 @ 7:16am

    moral panic is right...

    Here's a solution: Parents be aware of what your kids are doing, who they converse with, who they hang out with, what sites they visit online, etc. Too often we, as humans, like to push the blame on anyone but ourselves, which often leads to a bandaid solution that doesn't really fix any problem, it just raises a moral dilemma.

    Moral panic is right. We're turning this into an "Us vs. Them" situation. It's Us vs. Sex Offenders. Have we forgotten that these people are more than just criminals? They're people just like you and I. We all have our problems and faults. What would happen if we created an "Us vs. Them" situation by saying that only people with blue eyes and blond hair can go about their normal day-to-day lives. All else are subject to routine investigation and search and monitoring. We'd call that the Third Reich.

    In the same way, we demonize these people like they're lower than us. We opt for the easy way out by cutting them off from all of society and ignoring their personal struggles, dooming them to a life of shame and isolation. No one wants to actually help, they just want to protect themselves. Until we realize all of this, we're no better than the rapist and murderer.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2007 @ 10:50am

    Re: moral panic is right...

    So Correct it should not have to have been said.

     

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