Just three months after the founder of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, hosted a fund-raiser for Senator Clinton's re-election campaign, Mrs. Clinton has said a Murdoch-owned social networking Web site, mySpace.com, is a destination where children risk being stalked, bullied, and exposed to dangerous online scenarios such as predatory adults masquerading as their peers.
Addressing students, teachers, and parents at a middle school in Bethpage on Long Island yesterday, Mrs. Clinton spoke in general terms about Internet safety until several parents asked her to address their particular concerns about mySpace.com.
"We try to protect our kids in other ways, but we leave them at the mercy of the Internet," Mrs. Clinton said. "Myspace was thought to be so harmless at first, but there's a lot of defamatory information put there for malicious reasons. The Internet is pretty much unregulated, and the public is increasingly concerned about mySpace."
While Myspace prohibits children under 14 from joining the network, many youngsters lie about their ages in order to gain access to the site. When there, they sometimes disclose too much personal information and post provocative pictures of themselves. Myspace.com's popularity — it currently has 65 million members — makes it a frequent target among parents and school administrators concerned about predators using the Internet to contact children.
Mrs. Clinton warned Myspace users against posting pictures or information they would not want viewed by a future employer or mother-in-law. "Don't put anything on mySpace that you wouldn't want to see in 10 or 20 years," she said.
Mrs. Clinton said one idea would be to have large warnings pop up on screen every 10 minutes when a user was logged onto Myspace. The warnings would remind users that their personal profiles were public information and that, as Mrs. Clinton said, "The whole world can tap into this."
Myspace.com's chief security officer, Hemanshu Nigam, said via e-mail that the company shares Mrs.Clinton's "goal of a safer Internet and agree that parents should engage with teens about smart Internet practices. We have reached out to the Senator and look forward to working with her and other lawmakers to make the Internet as safe as possible."
"I got some wonderful ideas," Mrs. Clinton said on her way out. She said she planned to ask for a Senate hearing on protecting children and educating parents about safe practices while online.