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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
MySpace tightens age restrictions
Hands on a keyboard
The website has no way of verifying the age of members
Social networking website MySpace.com plans to introduce restrictions on how adults contact teenagers on the site.

The changes aim to make it more difficult for users more than 18 years old to befriend 14 and 15 year olds that they did not previously know.

A 14-year-old girl in the US is currently suing the site after she said she was sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old who she met on MySpace.

The website says the new restrictions are unrelated to the case.

Huge growth

Earlier this year, the website was criticised by parents groups and authorities, who said that the site was not doing enough to protect younger members.

Earlier this year the site introduced adverts warning teenagers about the dangers of sexual predators on the web and appointed a security chief to oversee child safety on the site.

Teens watching TV

MySpace began as a webpage for music fans but has been transformed into a site where users can chat and share interests online.

It was bought last year by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation for $580m (315m).

Users put up personal profiles, including photos, which are searchable by any of its 87 million users.

Members can build up a network of online friends by inviting other users to join their group. Alternatively, other users can ask to befriend a member by submitting a request to them.

Personal details

At the moment, children of 13 and under are prevented from setting up an account.

The site also only shows partial profiles of 14 and 15 year-olds unless the viewer is already on their list of friends.

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace for $580m (315m)

The partial profiles show the gender, age and city of the user.

Full profiles can include schools, hobbies and any other interests that a user chooses to disclose.

At the moment, MySpace has no way of verifying the age of users.

In March this year, two men were arrested in the US over sex charges after they allegedly used MySpace to meet two girls aged 11 and 14.

A 14 year old girl form Texas is also suing the owners of the website for $30m (16.2m) after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a 19 year old man she met on the site.

The lawyers representing the girl claim the site does not do enough to protect minors.

Site changes

The new restrictions aim to make it more difficult for older users to befriend younger members previously unknown to them.

Users of 18 and above will no longer be able to request to be added to a 14 or 15 year-old's group of friends unless they already know the teenager's e-mail address or full name.

Members will also be given an option that will mean they can only be contacted by users within their age group.

In addition, all users, no matter what their age, will also be given the option of making only partial profiles available to people they do not know.

MySpace say they also intend to change the way it targets advertising that will mean that younger users will not see adverts for gambling, dating and other adult themed sites.

The new restrictions are expected to be introduced next week.




SEE ALSO
MySpace tackles teen safety fears
11 Apr 06 |  Technology
Teen craze over networking sites
23 Mar 06 |  Technology
The MySpace Age
07 Mar 06 |  Magazine
Teenage life online
20 Mar 06 |  Breakfast
MySpace looks to UK music scene
24 Jan 06 |  Technology
What Myspace means to Murdoch
19 Jul 05 |  Business

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