After a comment from a reader, I have finally realized the major flaw in the way MySpace does business, especially with minors.
A concerned parent wrote asking about access to her child's private MySpace profile. Her child does not login to the computer at home, but in other places such as friends' places. But because her daughter has a private profile, she can not access it.
As I thought about the reader's problem, a major issue with MySpace finally became clear.
MySpace, first of all, does nothing to verify the identity or age of the member. The person signing up could be 12 years old (which is in violation of their TOS) and claim they are 19. The only way that the person would be caught is if they were reported. According to their TOS the offending profile would be removed. I don't believe there is any way to keep them from signing up for another profile, especially if they use another email address.
MySpace does little review of the content that user's post. How could they with so many profiles and relatively few staff. This is understandable and would not normally be an issue, except that they have no way, nor do they take any steps, of verifying a member's age.
MySpace gives the ability to make a profile private. This is a necessary and good thing, especially when faced with bad press about child molesters and other similar unsavory types using their service for less than noble purposes. However, the profile is completely private from everyone except the user's friends.
The major argument in support of social networking websites and freedom of content on the internet in general is this: Parents should watch their children and monitor what they do on the internet.
But that's the problem; The private profile feature on MySpace has locked most of the potential child molesters and stalker types out of their child's life (we hope) , but at the same time, has locked the parent out of viewing what the child is doing on the internet. Now, MySpace could allow a parent to see their child's profile. That is if they verified who the member was and verified the age of the member.
So, in effect, MySpace is enabling children to do what they want, with whom they want and removing any options the parent has for monitoring their child.