By ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer
Along with ads for bottled water and iTunes, a new campaign has begun
appearing on the online social networking hub MySpace.com.
"1 in 5 kids online is sexually solicited. Online predators know what
they're doing. Do you?" read the public service ads that began running
A division of News Corp., MySpace enables computer users to meet any
of more than 60 million members. Users post searchable profiles that
can include photos of themselves and such details as where they live
and what music they like.
But the Web site's features and popularity with teens have raised
concerns with authorities nationwide. There have been scattered
accounts of sexual predators targeting minors they met through the
The spots, which computer users can see on MySpace in the form of
banner ads, were also slated to begin running on a host of News
Corp. outlets, including other Fox Interactive Media Web sites, the 28
Fox Networks Group broadcast networks, Fox All Access radio and the
New York Post.
They are part of a campaign launched two years ago by the Ad Council
and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Meanwhile, MySpace announced Tuesday that it has hired a Microsoft
Corp. executive to oversee safety, education, privacy and law
enforcement affairs, effective May 1.
Hemanshu Nigam currently serves as a director responsible for driving
Microsoft's consumer security outreach and child safe computing
strategies. He was previously a federal prosecutor who specialized in
online child exploitation cases.
The new ad campaign warns parents and teens that sexual predators are
increasingly using the veil of anonymity provided by online chat
rooms, forums and social networking sites to target minors.
"One of the things we're trying to persuade kids to do is not to give
out personal details online, don't advertise where they are and who
they are," said Ernie Allen, president of the Alexandria, Va.-based
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "The person with
whom they may be interacting may not be who they say they are."
Some 22 percent of users are registered as under 18, according to
The site forbids minors 13 and under from joining and provides special
protections for those 14 and 15 -- only those on their friends' list
can view their profiles.
The company uses a computer program that analyzes user profiles and
flags members likely to be under 14. Hundreds of thousands of flagged
profiles have been deleted, the company has said.
Still, children regularly lie about their age to get around those
Last month, two men were arrested in what prosecutors said were the
first federal sex charges involving MySpace. Two Connecticut girls
involved in that case were 11 and 14, the FBI said.
On the Net:
Ad Council: http://www.missingkids.com/adcouncil/cpgn.html
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
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