MySpace.com plans to offer free parental notification software. Parents will be able to use the software, named “Zephyr,” to find out what name, age and location their children use to represent themselves on MySpace.
It would not allow parents to read their children’s e-mail or see their profile pages, and it would alert children that their information was being shared.
The minimum age to register on MySpace is 14. Last year, the service made it impossible for members 18 or older to contact 14- to 15-year-old members without knowing their email addresses.
Popular among teenagers, the site has had to deal with public criticism that some children who use it provide too much personal information, making them easy prey for sex offenders.
A primary challenge has been to add safety features while not alienating teenagers, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
Another problem is scepticism from the rest of the internet industry, the paper said. One big question is whether the service would violate users’ privacy rights; another is whether other people besides parents could use the software to monitor children.
The privacy question prompted social networking site Facebook and blogging site Xanga to decline to join MySpace’s efforts, the paper reported.
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