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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 12, 2006 at 9:41 AM

Today’s column on safety

To become an official member of the columnist club, I had to write a piece about the dangers of MySpace.com and other social networking sites.

The column only touched on ways that parents can be sure their kids are safe online. We ran another set of tips on Saturday, and I’ve invited Seattle Police Detective Malinda Wilson to answer questions from readers during a live online Q&A on Wednesday. We’re now taking questions for her here.

I’d been thinking about a MySpace column since I saw a couple of MySpace executives on stage with Bill Gates at Microsoft’s Mix06 conference a few months ago in Las Vegas. They seemed a little sensitive about the site’s raunchy reputation. After they navigated to the site, displaying it on the huge display screens in the meeting hall, the typical revealing images of young women appeared. They quickly scrolled down until the women weren’t so prominent.

After doing some reporting on the topic, two things were really surprising to me — how little parents have engaged, apparently, despite all the publicity around MySpace predators, and how easy it is for a small group of detectives with a modest budget to track down the predators.

I’m not keen on state oversight of the Web, but I’d rather have more tax dollars spent on police chasing pedophiles at MySpace and less spent on questionable security measures like walling the Mexican border and periodically shadowing the ferries to Bainbridge and Bremerton with machine gun boats.

Comments | More in | Topics: Security & privacy

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