MySpace is banning convicted sex offenders. Officials at the social networking website say they've already dumped the profiles of thousands of registered offenders nationwide, and after a bit of a court battle, will now hand those names over to police, some here in Oklahoma.
MySpace has teamed up with a tech company to investigate its 180 million profiles and root out registered sex offenders to keep them from connecting with kids. That company found 7,000 offenders so far, and The News On 6â€™s Heather Lewin reports MySpace says it will continue to search for more.
Attorneys General across the country have been badgering MySpace for months to release the names of convicted sex offenders with profiles on the site that allows for sharing pictures, videos, personal details and private chats. Among several other states, a list of names will be given to Oklahoma's Attorney General who will turn them over to police.
"We know the internet predators are out there, we know the sex offenders are out there, so how do we prevent them, who we have a hard time finding, how do we prevent them from contacting our children and trying to set up a meeting with them?" said Sergeant Tim Stadler with the Tulsa Police Department Cybercrimes Unit.
MySpace creators say they started the profile sweep because quote, "there was no means to weed them out and get them off of our site."
Cbyercrimes detectives say any steps a site like MySpace takes to prevent predators will help, somewhat.
"It's an excellent goal, the problem is how to enforce it,â€ Stadler said. â€œHow do you make sure sex offenders don't go undercover, that is use somebody else's name?"
After all, it's virtually impossible to prevent someone from using a fake name online. But legislators hoping to tackle this issue say MySpace is right on target and other social networking sites should follow.
â€œThis is a great victory for Oklahoma and our nation as well," State Representative Paul Wesselhoft said.
The representative from Moore drafted a bill allowing the court to ban sex offenders from using such sites. Still police say the first responsibility lies at home.
"Parents actually monitoring their kidâ€™s activities on the internet, reserving the right to have their child step away and check exactly where they've been, exactly what's on their MySpace or other internet accounts," said Stadler.
A few things make this system not so cut and dry. It's not automatically against the law for convicted sex offenders to contact minors online. Police say it must be a specific condition of their parole or probation. That means when the names are turned over, investigators will have to cross-reference everyone's probation conditions to see if they're in violation.
Watch the video: MySpace Booting Convicted Sex Offenders
1/30/2007 Bill Would Require Sex Offenders To Register Online Information
5/21/2007 - Attorney General To Get Sex Offender Information