Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Folks are concerned about myspace.com. Should they be?

Listen:
Download the mp3

Transcript

Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at askleo.info.

There's been a lot of noise in mainstream media lately about myspace.com - particularly with respect to it being use by adults attempting illicit activities with underage children.

Why myspace? Why now?

Myspace is certainly popular among the kids, and that may be the biggest reason. I get several questions every day relating to myspace passwords, hacking, and the apparently popular "how do I put a picture in a comment on myspace." (I don't know, but I'll work on it.) There's no way to tell whether the poster is 8 or 80, but quite often from the tone and wording it's obvious that the majority aren't necessarily from adults.

And therein lies the other problem: there's no real way to have a service that's free and open, without making it possible for children, both preteen and teenagers, to participate. Put up barriers, such as requiring but not charging a valid credit card, and you'll exclude much of your adult market as well. In a competitive climate, that's essentially business suicide.

And it is a competitive market. In reality, other than its current popularity, there's nothing revolutionary about myspace. There have been community sites for years, and the type of problems we hear about today are also nothing new.

What is new is simply the number of people, and by extension the number of children on the internet. Pure statistics will tell us that more people will mean more instances of various types of problems.

What's so special about myspace? Nothing. People tend to blame myspace, but fail to realize that should something happen to it, or should it simply fall out of favor, the kids will move on to the next cool thing, and the adults who are so inclined will simply follow.

So if this type of problem is not new, and if there'll always be a myspace or myspace equivalent, what do we do?

In my opinion, this isn't a problem technology can prevent. Technology can only help after the fact - once there's been a problem. Prevention requires education - and that means both parents and children. Children need to be educated in the very basics of privacy and trust, and how that applies directly to everything they might choose to do on line. Parents need to be keenly aware of what their children are doing on line. A horribly difficult job, I know, but parents need to be involved. Sadly many, perhaps most, are not.

Article C2594 - March 16, 2006 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

15 Comments
pickaxe pete
March 17, 2006 10:32 PM

The internet has received a bad rap. There has been another device in almost every home for years, that could connect us with sexual predators, drug dealers or any other crime or vice. it's called a telephone. Any piece of technology could be used for either good or evil. People have to be responsible for themselves and use these wonderful tools wisely.

D'Arcy
March 19, 2006 7:42 PM

Did 'Pickaxe Pete' just compare the internet to a telephone?
That's just dumb! I'm sorry, but it is. I don't know about your corner of the world, but over here we can't simply call up the phone operator and request to talk to a paedophile or for a copy of the instructions to make a bomb.

I do, however, agree that it isn't a problem that technology can prevent. It will come down to the guidance by society and most importantly education of people who use such services.

Sally St. James
March 23, 2006 7:48 AM

Your kidding right?? You really do not know why all the attention to my space?? Its because underage girls/boys are putting up there pictures in poses playboy would be ashamed of. The perverts sit there and talk to these girls/boys seeming to be about there age, then they say well lets meet. Then on the news a day or so later is a missing persons report. I tell you, the news is full of great information and that is one report that needs expanding on.

I have seen children who post there pictures and wonder why they are called names at school. They wonder why they get pregant at 16. I just dont understand why people can't teach there children at home like most used to about the DANGERS of sex, and sexual behavoir on the net, in the schools, in the playground, movies, cars ect.

Its time for the parents to wake up, and see there children as humans and not just a crazy person. They are children.

Leo
March 23, 2006 9:08 AM

You missed my point. There are MANY places on the internet where this can, and does happen. There's nothing "special" about myspace. If myspace went away tomorrow, both the kids and the adults that stalk them would quickly find new and equivalent venues.

I totally agree that parents need to wake up. But IMO parents need to be paying more attention to the kids and their behaviours, and spending less time blaming the technology.

Sally St. James
March 23, 2006 3:28 PM

I think they just use my space because its easy, and they the site has money to adversise so more people know about it.

Eelko Van der Does
March 29, 2006 9:33 PM

Myspace has been solidly growing for a long time now, the reason for its success? Well, I have been with them for a long time now, but not as a "person" but rather as a musician... My music is able to be heard on Myspace along with many much more well known artists. Thats right, famous bands are putting their music on myspace for free. Most noticably recently an american band called "Nine Inch Nails" which has a very large following posted a complete copy of their new album 1 month before it was released in stores.

On top of that Myspace has this "friends" feature, where people apply to be your friend and you can choose to approve them, or not. This appeals to a lot of younger people who usually turn this into some sort of competition. I guess it is a lot like a computer game, the winner has the most "friends".

Myspace also acts as a free website, including blog which allows people to easily create homepages for themselves.. (this has been done a million times before ofcourse, but hey.... its all part of the fun).. "almost instant messaging" is also built in.... providing both recipients have myspace accounts...

All in all there is not a single thing that makes Myspace more popular than some of its predecessors (geocities and such) but it is a combination of clever toys and clever marketing...

As far as paedophiles and things go.... I hadnt heard about that happening on myspace, but there is no reason to believe it wouldnt happen there when it has been happening since the inception of the internet using one platform or another...

Perhaps parents should follow up "The birds and the bees" with "The birds and the modem".

Brendon Mune
May 16, 2006 3:40 PM

Eelko - trying to track you down urgently (it's Brendon from STNZ) - please get hoild of me on my same old email! cheers

blarg.
June 10, 2006 6:08 PM

hey. i did everything you said just when i go to porperties it says that the URL is not avaliabe.
what do i do? someone help!

Jenn
July 11, 2006 1:22 PM

Hi Leo - I just read this article and I compeletely agree with you. Yes, there are Adults out there who do solicit minors for sex, however, there are also minors out there, who dress to make themselves look like adults and put that they are 18 on their profiles to get older people to talk to them. So, the problems are on them too. This is NOT myspace\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s fault. The parents are lookin\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' for someone to blame, when in reality, there is no one to blame. Parents need to monitor what their children do online. Myspace happens to be popular right now, but the same issues were going on with yahoo, just a few years ago. Although, I don't remember it being on the news nearly as much as myspace. Great Article, and have a great day!

jen
December 1, 2006 9:43 PM

I changed my email address on myspace to a new one and now i cant log back in...Myspace wont help me!!?
i could have punched in the wrong email address...i highly doubt it though! Do U suppose it was an error caused from myspace?...!!! I tried going back to my old email address and that didnt work either... My profile still exist but i cant retrieve my mail...log in or anything..Im so bothered...can anyone please take the time to reffer me to some help! How can someone retrieve my email address by going on to my profile...(thats the only way...i know my password but it says my email does not exist...)

thanks fot the help...i appreciate it!!

audrey
March 9, 2007 3:18 PM

myspace myspace myspace... i found so many of my old friends from the parts of town i moved from. because of myspace's popularity, i can find almost anyone! i learned how to use basic html codes to manipulate various "objects" on my page. i got to experience great underground music in a convenient manner. i deep in touch with people far away and my mom can easily see what im up to (as long as im honest). myspace has been productive for most people who use it... advertising, networking, ect... this myspace idea was ingenious as sliced bread! hurray!

myspace-a-holic
June 11, 2007 1:48 AM

hi im just going to say that us teenagers dont go on myspace to pose, you accept or decline strangers, most people decline, and the main thing you do on myspace is talk to friends and have fun not all this crap about "oh yeh lets meet"
that never happens, people just say that to scare kids away


un-believable

Jessica
July 20, 2007 9:48 AM

I <3 Myspace. It's a great way to keep in touch with old friends, family thats far away, and meet new people when you move. I live out of a hotel 4 days a week for my job, so whenever I am in a new city, it's easier to message someone who lives there to ask about the cool places to go. But I strongly feel that minors should not meet and greet random people, parents are to blame here, when I was still in grade school, I was required to give my parents my passwords for everything. But, I went out with friends all the time...I never spent much time on the computer, now that I am grown...my laptop is my life. I am never home, so its how I keep my cell phone minutes as a record low. I think myspace has updated the online community and made it more "user friendly".

peri
December 2, 2007 10:52 PM

the way to put pictures on a picture comment is go to photobucket.com or tinypic or somthing, upload it or find a picture oyu want in the search engine, and copy the "html" code on the side of the screen. then go to a picture on myspce, select comment, and copy and paste the code into it. voila.

mister petey
December 20, 2007 8:17 AM

We came to Myspace because of the free music posting - musicians can post 4 or more free songs, a detailed calendar, photos, and you can see comments from other fans. This is an invaluable service to musicians, who obviously need their own site as well, but the networking is unbelievable. As a fan you can quickly check what all of your favorite local bands are up to this weekend without having to navigate 10 separate web pages, and see that there are similar bands across the country, in Belgium, Africa, wherever...
Yes there's plenty of bimbo spam, increasing commercials, but even still its working.
PS Leo - thanks for the tip on posting pics.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.