by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
richard blumenthal, sex offenders, social networks


Raising Some Questions About Smoking Gun Sex Offender Profiles On MySpace

from the anyone-check-if-it's-actually-real? dept

Last week, there was a story on News.com about how Connecticut's Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, who's been on quite a crusade to "protect the children" from social networks, was demanding MySpace hand over info on sex offenders registered on the site. This seemed a bit odd, because MySpace and other social networks had already agreed to weed out the accounts of various sex offenders. Yet, as the article noted, an investigator (who was involved in a separate legal battle with MySpace) happened to find profiles of registered sex offenders still on MySpace including (gasp!) some who even used their own mug shots as their photos. Yet, as Sean Garrett points out, the whole thing seems pretty questionable. Why would a sex offender trolling the site for kids use their own mugshot -- and equally creepy descriptions that are pretty clear tipoffs. The whole thing seems quite likely that someone found the sex offender page and set up a fake MySpace profile.

Of course, it's possible the page was actually put together by the sex offender in question, but it doesn't look like anyone actually bothered to confirm that it's real. Instead, it's being used as a political prop by politicians and reporters of the horrible type of people found on MySpace. As Jim Harper notes, will Richard Blumenthal be investigating the reincarnation of Elvis Presley on Facebook next?

No one's trying to downplay the serious issue of sexual predators, but study after study after study has shown that the issue has been blown way out of proportion by politicians and the press who seem to love creating moral panics so they can claim they're "protecting the children." It's as if they stop thinking and all skepticism goes out the window the second anyone claims that sexual predators might be on social networks -- despite the fact that studies have shown the best way to combat the rare cases when children are approached by such miscreants is better education. Children who are educated on the risks are quite good at avoiding such contact. Yet, that doesn't make for such great headlines and probably doesn't help Attorneys General when it comes to re-election time.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 7:08am

    Something is not right with this registration.

    Date of Birth 10 / 20 31 would make this person 78 years old.

    Age listed is 68.

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

  2. identicon
    Shaun W, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 7:25am

    Stranger danger

    I thought that stranger danger thing was mostly an exaguration anyway. Generally it's supposed to be uncles, family friends, sport coaches etc as far as I know - people who are trusted.

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

  3. identicon
    DS78, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 7:42am

    It's not MySpace

    The "type of people found on MySpace" is a reflection of people you come across everyday.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 7:43am

    You are more likely to be molested by your parish priest; however, I have yet to see an effort to request information from the church on priests in general nor an attempt to close all parishes.

    Before you scoff, if it works on facebook then why not the church. Do you see why this is soo scary now?

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

  5. identicon
    Monarch, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 7:47am

    Wonder if Richard Blumenthal will investigate himself if a self incriminating MySpace profile pops up with him admitting he's a sex offender?

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

  6. identicon
    The i-Team, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 7:49am

    I've heard all this somewhere before...

    Oh that's right, Chris Morris lampooned the hysteria in "Brass Eye" a few years back:


    Just drop a few references to Myspace in there and it'd be brought bang up to date :-s

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    The guy's a sex offender, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so why not use mugshots? They look 'cool' to other kids, and he doesn't need to bother taking new pics.

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

  8. identicon
    Joe Schmoe, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 8:30am

    "...The whole thing seems quite likely that someone found the sex offender page and set up a fake MySpace profile..."

    Like perhaps the/an investigator with a motive?

    (i.e. Record industry P2P trackers who themselves were flooding the networks with music and blaming traders)

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

  9. identicon
    iNvEStMeNt CoMpLiaNcE, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    That is so creepy. I cant believe they would use their mugshots as photos.
    that is kind of sick, get them off the net!

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

  10. identicon
    JustMe, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 9:52am


    Who uses MySpace anyway? There are no kids left on MySpace anymore!
    Let the pedophiles hang out there.

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

  11. identicon
    A Sex Offender, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 9:54am

    I'm a sex offender. I was 18 and had a 15 year old girlfriend. I made a mistake, whatever.

    I have a MySpace. I'm 30 years old now, and the only people on my friends list are my friends in real life and coworkers from work. What's the harm in that?

    Just because a sex offender has a myspace, doesn't mean he's trolling for little kids.

    Even if he was, wouldn't you want to let him keep the account so that you could see if he's doing something?

    Also, the "mug shot" on the registry, is nothing but our drivers license photo. So it's possible that it could be the person using it.

    There's an easy way to fix the "predator" problem on myspace, here it is:
    1.) remove friend counts so it's not a competition to have the most friends
    2.) If a 40 year old wants to be friends with somebody under 18, make it so that the child has to be the one to initiate contact.

    That is, don't let me being 30 even request friendship with a 15 year old. If the 15 year old wants me as a friend, make it so they have to know me in real life and actually request to add me. Then, it wouldn't be possible to even talk to children on the site, and the only girls that would get raped are the ones who actively seeked out older men.

    It's simple.

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

  12. icon
    chris (profile), Jan 28th, 2009 @ 10:27am

    we need more pedophiles on xbox live

    live is full of screeching sopranos with single digit IQ's. they ruin games for everyone.

    we should round up the pedophiles from myspace and turn them loose on xbox live for a few months and see if we can cull the squeaker population to a manageable level.

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

  13. identicon
    Joe, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 11:08am

    Protecting the children

    I feel like i read this line WAY to much on this site. I understand it's the topics being covered but it almost feels like overkill.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Protecting the children

    that is because this site uses the "protect the children" line only about half as much as politicians do.

    I say only because if they used it as often as politicians than the line is used way too much bay way too many people with way too few working braincells.

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

  15. identicon
    Sex Offender Issues, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Moral Panic and Mass Hysteria


    Yes, it's pure hysteria, a moral panic. Many have used the 50,000 online predators, and they admit, the number came from Chris Hansen, who pulled it out of thin air, because it's one of those "magical" numbers that is not too much and not too less, it sounds good.


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

  16. identicon
    Eisenhans, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 5:11pm

    More Panic More Hysteria

    It would seem that the only thing that sustains politicians and the main media these days is moral panic and artificial hysteria about all sort of dubious dangers,Y2K WMD and the biggie Global Warming,all of which produce massive industries and truckloads of cash. One can only wonder what will happen when they can turn the "Protect The Children" thing into some sort of moneymaking exercise.

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

  17. identicon
    John, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    It already is

    It already is a huge moneymaking exercise. Think of all the money the GPS manufacturers are making. There are tons of "Family Watchdog" type sites that have sprung up and charge a nominal fee for a free service (anyone can use their state's registry for free and find the same information that sites like Family Watchdog charge for). Sex offenders must pay for all of their treatment, polygraphs, and monitoring, which often amounts to hundreds of dollars a month. Another interesting thing to consider is that the registry NEEDS all of the low-level offenders on it to keep it going. Neighborhoods need to look like they have "Sex Offender Chicken Pox", even if most of them are what many people would consider low level offenders. People see the "chicken pox effect" and get scared and think they need to have a registry to keep track of all the "dangerous sickos". Without the low level offenders, it would be "one guy here...another guy way over there" and there wouldn't be a need for the whole god-forsaken thing in the first place.

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

  18. identicon
    Dan, Jan 29th, 2009 @ 3:10am

    That smoking gun is really only a steaming pile of shit.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 8:09am

    I believe in giving people chances and choices but if a sex offcnder is registering on this or any other site they he still needs help because they are not over the sickness. Theu are given the opportunity to get back on the bad strick that they are trying so hard to stay away because alot of the people ob myspace or othersites advvertise them self as older and sexualy exploded. Howevver if a sex offender falls for this tupe of advertisement then they still need some serious help. My advice is if you are a sex offender stay off the sites if you arfe being true to yoursrlf and family. and friends no wil trust you if you put yourself in those situations.

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

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