Don’t be alarmed: 29,000 sex offenders on MySpace

There are about 600,000 convicted sex offenders in the United States. As of this month, 29,000 of them had profiles on MySpace.The number comes from a group of state attorneys general who threatened MySpace with legal action if it didn’t scrub its social network of registered sex offenders. In May, the company estimated that only 7,000 sex offenders had profiles on the site; the actual number, it found after deeper research, was four times as many.MySpace has deleted the 29,000 profiles. But as Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s attorney general, noted in a statement, MySpace can only associate sex offenders with profiles when the offenders use real names to set up their sites; there could be many other sex offender profiles the site doesn’t know about.

Does this mean it’s impossible that your child will be contacted by a sex offender over the site? No. But the odds are quite, quite low. How do we know this? Because if MySpace truly had made it easier for predators to find and attack children, we’d have noticed a huge spike in such crimes. And we haven’t.Take a look at North Carolina’s statistics on rapes committed against young people. In 1997, there were 665 rape convictions in the state in which the victim was younger than 15. In 2006, there were 615. MySpace made no difference at all.

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