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MySpace to Let Parents Block Their Kids From Joining - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

Representatives from MySpace and the attorneys general of 49 states are announcing a new partnership to fight sexual predators and clean up social networks.

Hemanshu Nigam, right, chief security officer at MySpace, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper at a news conference. (Photo: Mark Lennihan/Associated Pres)

Among the dozens of measures MySpace has agreed to take, the social network will let parents submit the e-mail addresses of their children, so the company can prevent anyone from using that address to set up a profile. It will also set the profiles of all 16 and 17-year-olds to private, so only their established online friends can visit their pages - essentially creating a “closed” section for users under age 18.

MySpace also promises to hire a contractor to identify and delete pornographic images on the site. And the company will take charge of an Internet safety technical task force to develop an age and identity verification tools for social networking sites.

I’m not sure how this is going to work - such systems are either notoriously easy to circumvent or so cumbersome that they stymie sign-ups. Such measures will also clearly be easier to implement for MySpace rival Facebook, which already has a more privacy-oriented architecture, and has encouraged users from the beginning to use their real identities.

But the attorney generals are heralding this as a big step and the phrase “landmark partnership” is being bandied about quite a bit in the press conference.

From Connecticut attorney General Richard Blumenthal: “If for nothing else, this set of principles is a landmark and milestone because it involves an acknowledgment of the importance of age and identity authentication and a commitment to explore and develop those means,” he said. “If we can put a man on the moon we can do age and identity authentication. Today we form a partnership that will protect children , purge predators and expunge inappropriate content including pornography.”