N.C. officials: 2,116 of state’s sex offenders found on MySpace

North Carolina bans sex offenders within the state from social networking sites where children are members.
More than 2,100 registered North Carolina sex offenders were found on the social networking site MySpace, the state attorney general’s office said Tuesday.

In response to a subpoena from state Attorney General Roy Cooper, “MySpace turned over the names, IP and e-mail addresses of 2,116 convicted North Carolina sex offenders found on its social networking Web site,” Cooper’s office said in a written statement. Cooper has requested similar information from Facebook, another popular social networking site, the statement said. MySpace has told North Carolina authorities that the sex offenders it identified have been removed from the site. North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation is sharing the sex offenders’ information with all 100 sheriffs in the state, Cooper’s office said. “It’s no secret that child predators are on these Web sites,” Cooper said in the statement. “Turning over information about these predators to law enforcement helps, but MySpace, Facebook and other social networks need to do much more to protect kids online.” North Carolina passed a law last year banning sex offenders within the state from social networking sites where children are members, making it a felony offense.

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Sex offenders on social networking sites is not a new issue. Last month, Newsweek magazine reported that Facebook said it had removed 5,585 convicted sex offenders from its site between May 2008 and January 2009. MySpace also announced it had removed 90,000 sex offenders in a two-year period, the magazine said. Last June, the Texas attorney general’s office said it had arrested seven convicted sex offenders who violated their parole conditions by creating MySpace profiles, according to an article on the TechNewsWorld Web site. Cooper and Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s attorney general, for more than three years have led a group of attorneys general in working to make social networking safer, Cooper’s office said. The group is pushing social networks to use technology such as age and identity verification to better protect users who may be children. After discussions with the group, MySpace became the first social networking site to develop technology aimed at finding and removing sex offenders, the North Carolina statement said. Cooper is pushing Facebook to take similar steps. But, Cooper’s office said, “the information provided by MySpace does not include sex offenders who have not been convicted, are not registered or may be using aliases on the site. Cooper remains concerned about other sex offenders on the site who may be lying about who they are, and is continuing to ask MySpace to do more to protect children on the site.”