Daily Archives: January 23, 2007

Who is really responsible?

filed a lawsuit against the MySpace social networking website. According to this article from The Register: “Myspace didn’t act quickly enough to protect users who are minors from adult predators. The plaintiffs say their daughters were solicited and abused by adults using the site.” [rant mode on]
At what point did parents stop being responsible for the care of their children, and children stop being responsible for their own actions? When did MySpace (or Facebook, or Yahoo, or any other website) take over that role in the raising of a child? I’ve talked with parents, and I’m going to be one in a few months. Parents must take an active role in their child’s development, including monitoring what they do on the computer, or who their friends are. This includes knowing the parents of their friends and how those parents raise their own children.
[rant mode off] In the Houston case, I seem to recall that the mother had blocked internet access on their home computer, or they didn’t have a computer. So, the daughter used her cell phone’s browser to go to MySpace, or a computer at a friend’s house. This goes back to being involved, both with the child and the parents of the child’s friends. MySpace cannot be responsible because someone using their free, unmonitored service lied about their age or lured an irresponsible teenager into a compromised situation. Consider MySpace and the other sites as “common carriers”: just like the phone company is not responsible for someone using the telephone to plan a robbery, or Cingular would not responsible for someone using a cell phone to trigger a bomb, MySpace and other social networking sites cannot be victimized by someone who is willing to lie to get somewhere. If MySpace implements the new rules they are discussing, it’s simply going to generate hundreds of additional profiles; more people who will lie that they are either over age or under age to meet the people they are targeting. Short of turning into a pay service, and alienating their current major userbase (most of whom probably don’t have credit cards or paypal accounts), I don’t see any changes that will substantially alter the current situation. I really hope that the courts decide to throw out this case, with prejudice, and make those filing the lawsuit pay their own legal fees. Along with a stern lecture about parenting. Maybe that will make people think twice in this “I don’t like you I’m going to sue” society.]]>