NY predators deleted from Facebook, MySpace

The state of New York has made it easier for social network sites that work with it to deleted sex offenders registered in that state. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo this week announced that two sites that do use the state’s database to check for predators, MySpace and Facebook, have purged the profiles of more than 3,500 sex offenders – “Facebook was able to identify and disable the accounts of 2,782 registered sex offenders” and MySpace 1,796 accounts, ConnectSafely.org co-director Larry Magid reports in CNET. New York has a law that “bans many registered offenders from using social-networking sites while on parole or probation and requires all registered offenders to disclose their email addresses, screen names, and ‘other Internet identifiers.’ That data is provided to social-networking sites to run against their rolls” (some states just fax over a list, Facebook says, making it difficult to identify the offenders in sites with hundreds of million profiles). MySpace says there has never been a case reported of a registered sex offender deleted from the site being prosecuted for illegal contact on the site. Cuomo praised both sites for their work in this area, adding that many other social network sites are slow to cooperate. “As always, it’s important to put this news into perspective,” Magid writes. “It only involves registered sex offenders, which of course,is a good start, but it only includes people who have been caught and convicted. And, while the companies do their best to ferret out registered offenders who try to hide their identity, there is no way to know how many people succeed in eluding them. Also, we know of very few children who have been sexually molested by someone they met on social-networking sites or any Internet sites. The vast majority of child sex abuse victims know the offender from the real world…. And, based on conversations with security officials at social-networking companies, I am not aware of any cases where a registered sex offender has been convicted of using the site to aid in harming a child he or she met on that site.”

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