Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The New Age Examiner - Moms check out 'toxic' Internet

The New Age Examiner - Moms check out 'toxic' Internet
Local groups are setting up programs for thedir community on online safety. | Online predators target of bill Online predators target of bill | Online predators target of bill Online predators target of billOnline predators target of billMySpace, Congress team to keep sites free of sex offenders

Taya Lynn Gray, The Desert SunKatilyn Corl, of Cathedral City has her profile posted on the popular site on the internet. Her father, Rick Corl, has strict rules for his daughter when she uses MySpace to keep her safe.
Tell kids not to share such personal information as names, addresses and the school they attend.
Review your child’s profile often for inappropriate messages or images.
You can find your child’s profile on MySpace by clicking on the "search" mode and entering your child’s name, e-mail address or school.
Parents can have a child’s profile removed by contacting MySpace’s parental help staff, or
Parents can install software that can record what kids say and post online. recommends programs such as those made by Spectorsoft, which can be found at or
more online

January 31, 2007
January 31, 2007
WASHINGTON - In this technology savvy world, requiring sex offenders to register just their physical address is just not good enough, several members of Congress said Tuesday.
The lawmakers joined with in unveiling bipartisan legislation that would require sex offenders to also register their online identity - e-mail addresses and instant message user names - with federal officials.
"We have to plug the online loophole. Sex offenders have no business joining social networking communities, especially those popular among teens," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
The Justice Department would make the e-mail addresses of sex offenders available to social networking sites, upon request, so they could compare the data with their user profiles. Failure to register new e-mail addresses or IM names would result in fines and/or up to 10 years in prison, under the proposed legislation.
The bill also would make it illegal for someone to misrepresent his or her age on a social networking profile for the purposes of engaging in sexual activity with a minor.
"Our kids are pretty astute when it comes to cruising around on the Internet and it can be very scary," said Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who is co-sponsoring the bill in the House with Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and Paul Gillmor, R-Ohio.
"It's long overdue that we pass this kind of legislation," Chabot said.
MySpace, one of a growing number of popular social networking Web sites, boasts 150 million registered users of which 21 million are children under age 18. Other social networking sites include, and
User safety tipsThe Web site, increasingly concerned about stories related to the site’s safety, has numerous tips on how to safely navigate it. MySpace executives have teamed with to offer these tips:MySpace limits the use to users who are at least 14 years old. But the site has no way of knowing when users lie and give wrong ages.The pages of those under 16 cannot be accessed by persons they do not know or have accepted as friends.Inappropriate images, including those of nudity, are not allowed on the site. Violators have their accounts closed.Never publicly post any personally identifiable information that could be used to find or identify you in real life.What should never be posted: Your real name, address, telephone number, cell number, sports team, health club, or links to Web sites or other profiles that might give this information away.Why this is important: Identify theft. Information can be misused to steal your identity, guess your passwords, cyberstalk or harass you or by predators who really want to hurt you.Don’t reply to spam. At best, they go into a black hole and never get to the sender. At worst, you find yourself now on many more lists because they figured out you read the junk e-mail.Always use a disposable free e-mail address, like yahoo, hotmail or msn. If you run into problems, you can just stop using it and no one can follow you back to your real address - assuming you followed the tips about not sharing too much personal info.Being online does not make you completely anonymous. There are ways that people can discover real life information about the people they meet online.Some hacking programs and Spyware can grab your passwords and credit card information. Use a firewall and anti-virus program and update them automatically. Visit or the site for more information.Keep your password a secret. Sharing it can cause huge problems. And don’t use one that’s easy for someone to guess.Have a secret code word with your real life friends that you chat with online. If you are chatting with someone you think you know, but are suspicious if the person on the other side is really them or not, ask them for the password.ThinkB4UClick: Never reply to any attempt to gain personal or banking information from an e-mail that you did not originate.Fake MySpace Logins. It’s possible that someone could redirect you to a page that looks like a MySpace Login page, but really isn’t. When logging into MySpace, always check the URL bar at the top of your browser and make sure you see the domain in the first part of the URL.Treat others with respect, and expect the same from them. Don’t be obnoxious. Online arguments are known as "flaming." These incidents can escalate into off-line harassment. Do not harass others online. If you do it, can get your service revoked.If you ever feel like you’re in real danger from someone online, tell someone you trust and then go directly to your local law enforcement agency. Don’t delete the message. Also, a printout won’t be enough. The police will need the live communication to check out the headers and other coding to trace the sender or poster.Source: MySpace safety tips prepared in collaboration with

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

16 year old charged in videotaping attack of another student

Long Island
Teen who taped North Babylon fight is chargedBY ZACHARY R. DOWDYNewsday Staff WriterJanuary 29, 2007, 10:17 PM EST
The North Babylon teenager who Suffolk police said videotaped the attack by three girls on a 13-year-old girl -- a four-minute film that was posted on the Internet and became a worldwide symbol of cyberbullying -- was arrested Monday after turning himself in.Police charged Bryan Alomar, 16, of North Babylon, with unlawful assembly, a Class B misdemeanor.

Alomar was released on $100 stationhouse bail and is due in First District Court in Central Islip on March 22."He was there and videotaped the whole thing," said Lt. Robert Edwards, commander of the First Precinct's Crime Section. "We're not sure who posted it on the Internet, but he was the recorder."The arrest is the latest development in a case that received worldwide media attention because the attack was boldly posted on the Internet.That deed, many observers said, was an act of information age-bullying because it further humiliated the victim in the attack by displaying the beating to the world."I sincerely hope that the message is getting out to young people all around the county and the country that bullying or physically abusing peers is serious and unacceptable, not entertainment fodder for a Web site," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, reacting to the arrest.The video in question features three girls attacking another girl with considerable anger, knocking her down and, at times, pulling her hair and kicking her repeatedly in the head.Her father appeared on a national news show and said his daughter had expected to meet and talk with one girl, but that she was ambushed by three. The father said his daughter was able to cover up her hurt places and that he and his wife were not aware of the attack at the time.The attack was Dec. 18 outside Woods Road Elementary School in North Babylon.The three girls, all first-year students at North Babylon High School, were arrested earlier this month and charged with juvenile delinquency with an underlying charge of third-degree assault. They have been released to their parents' custody and have been suspended from school.The fight, investigators have said, stemmed from a dispute over a boy. The victim and one of the girls seen attacking her had both dated the same boy, police have said.The video that documents the attack was posted on several Web sites, including and, prompting school officials to alert police and discipline the teenagers.It was unclear Monday whether the boy over whom the girls were said to be fighting would also face charges. He was believed to have been present during the fight, too."Not as of now," Edwards said Monday of any charges against the boyfriend.Alomar also was suspended for five days from North Babylon High. Neither his parents nor his attorney could be reached for comment Monday night.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Wired News: MySpace Predator Caught by Code

Wired News: MySpace Predator Caught by Code
the wired news report on how they found registered sex offenders on myspace.

MySpace announces donation of sexual predator database to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

CHILD PROTECTION DATABASE -- and SentinelTech will announce today that they are donating their Sentinel Safedatabase technology to the National Center for Missing & ExploitedChildren. (NCMEC). Sentinel Safe is a new database developed byMySpace and Sentinel Tech that enables Web sites and other thirdparties to effectively identify, remove, and block convicted sexoffenders from online communities.

While I am happy to see any technology that helps protect kids from sexual exploitation being used to its fullest capacity, I still don't see how this will have a serious impact on child's safety. How many registered sex offenders will continue to use their real names and pictures (that can be paired with mugshots) on myspace?

Wired ran a great story on this months ago. The journalist worked for months on pairing registered sex offenders (not just of kids, though) with members on myspace. He had many false positives. For example every "Ned Smith" profile may not be the same "Ned Smith" who is a sex offender. But he found about 700 who apparently matched up.

Several other media outlets followed this lead and ran the same search for their locale. Lots of registered sex offenders were outted on myspace and other sites. So did many law enforcement agencies.

But each of these searches had to be done laboriously and manually. Matching up sex offender registries with zipcodes and names, one by one.

MySpace has been trying to help protect their users (really) for two years now. They started by asking WiredSafety for guidance in early 2005. Our safety tips resided there for more than a year. Later, they joined forces with NCMEC and other groups as well. This software announcement is a repeat of an announcement made months ago about the alliance between MySpace and Sentinel. The software allows an easy pairing of the registry databases with the registration info at myspace. That will help identify the sex offenders who are stupid enough to continue to use their real names and locations and pictures on myspace.

(Actually, even if they take those down, the search descriptions on myspace continue to list the information after the changes are made on the profile itself. We have spotted this as a problem with teens who have now set their profiles to "private" while the descriptions continue to share too much info. So, the sex offenders (happily) might get caught even after they make changes.)

The Virginia Attorney General has proposed adding a requirement that registered sex offenders be required to share their e-mail addresses with the authorities. This can have a big impact. Not, as many think, because the sex offenders will disclose their addresses, but more (IMHO) because when they don't, their parole/probation terms will be violated and they can go back to jail.

That I support!

I just don't see how donating this technology is newsworthy. But perhaps, every little bit helps when kids and predators are involved.

The Internet brings out the best and the worst in people

I've been doing this a very long time. I have protected kids, adults and celebrities online. I have worked with everyone in the industry to help create a safer and more responsible Net.

I started fighting this fight in 1997. Before then I protected corporations in cyberspace. (moving form protecting corporations at hefty hourly legal rates, to working for free to protect kids wasn't necessarily a great business move. :-))

While I understand how kids and young teens may act out online, and do things they shouldn't, I am always amazed at the outrageous things adults will do online.

Cyberbashing....something short of cyberstalking, akin to cyberharassment, is something businesses do to their competitors and people with way too much time on their hands do online to bother others.

I wish we had a law against rudeness and immaturity online. It's such a waste of time and bandwidth.

my 2 cents.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

We're seeing more and more prospective employers deciding not to hire teens and college students because of what they have posted online....
it's time to teach our kids to put their best foot forward online, just as they would in public offline.
what they post online counts!
I always say that what you post online stays online...forever!

Gang News

gangs are using video and social networks to recruit suburban kids.Gang News

Teenagers find expresssion online -

Teenagers find expresssion online -

Thursday, January 25, 2007

CJOnline Blogs - Why teens risk online exposure, and how parents can help

Myspace safety? it's more than just safety tips....CJOnline Blogs - Why teens risk online exposure, and how parents can help

ARTICLE: Enter the world of live, unfiltered webcams, where anything goes ( -

ARTICLE: Enter the world of live, unfiltered webcams, where anything goes ( -

Unlike Vegas, what happens online goes all over

think twice before doing anything online that you don't want a future employer to read...Unlike Vegas, what happens online goes all over

Technology News: Legal: School Safety: Technology Outpacing the Law

Technology News: Legal: School Safety: Technology Outpacing the Law

violent videos online

Jan 20, 2007 4:27 pm US/Central

Violent Videos Come Under Fire On The Web

Frank Vascellaro

(WCCO) This week, Web sites like YouTube and MySpace came under attack for hosting violent videos like the video of three 9th grade girls from Long Island taking turns pulling hair, punching and even stomping on an 8th grade girl.

The attack was taped and posted on the web and safety experts say many parents have no idea videos like that even exist out in cyberspace.

Playground fights are nothing new, but posting them on video websites is.

The parents of one 13-year old beating victim did not want to press charges until it ended up on the Internet.

"By putting these images up on the Internet, you get attention. You get fame. It's a culture in which kids are looking to be famous," said psychologist James Garbarino.

Police and other law enforcement agencies have started monitoring popular websites for violent videos. Once the clips are out in the open it can become the perfect evidence because the act of posting it becomes an admission of guilt.

"They don't say, 'I'm putting on a picture of a fight which is against the law.' It's, 'I'm putting on a picture of a fight. I will have 15 minutes of fame.' They don't see it as a criminal act," said Roni Benson an anti-bullying advocate.

Even if your kids never get involved in any violence, experts worry about another risk. Parry Aftab with says the videos make gang life seem exciting and cool to lure kids in.

"It's allowing gangs to recruit beyond where they used to. So, we have a lot of kids who are bored in upper middle class suburban neighborhoods who are now finding that it might be kind of fun to hang out with the Bloods," said Aftab.

YouTube said it pulls any flagged video that shows someone being "hurt, attacked or humiliated."

MySpace said it removes flagged videos with "offensive content, hate speech and violence."

Policies aside, the videos are posted and advocates are concerned that most parents have no idea and need to be warned.

"What we need to let parents know is your kids can stumble on it. You have to talk to them ahead of time about what they may find," said Aftab.

In recent weeks, the video Web sites have added safety teams that also monitor and remove inappropriate content as it's discovered.

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The realities of myspace and teens online - keeping them safer on myspace

Why teens risk online exposure, and how parents can help
Posted by
Daily Dose - News in News2 Topeka Kansas, January 12, 2007

Kevin smokes pot and drinks alcohol on a monthly basis. Damisha, who never has kissed more than one person in the same day, thinks Jazmyne flirts more than anyone she knows. Laci works at a day care and has no idea what she wants to do with her life, but she would like to get engaged before the year ends.

Kevin, Damisha and Laci, who identify themselves as teenagers living in Topeka, posted this information to their Myspace Web pages.
And there are many others who have much more to say. As teens look online to develop social connections, they often divulge too much information, putting themselves at risk with parents, employers, police and predators.

“It’s the future of the Net,” said Parry Aftab, a privacy lawyer and executive director of, an online resource for teaching teens and parents the dos and don’ts of social networking.

Because it’s the future, she said, we have a responsibility to embrace the technology and use it wisely — even if you’re not comfortable with it.

Last month, local parents expressed outrage following a story in the Topeka West student newspaper that included blurred images posted to Myspace. The photos showed teens drinking.

Ron Harbaugh, spokesman for Topeka Unified School District 501, said 501 schools provide students with information about the dangers of social networking. Sites like Myspace, he said, are blocked on school computers.

But what students do at home is up to them, he said.

“They’re aware of the dangers, especially after recent incidents, but that’s their decision,” Harbaugh said.

That’s the wrong approach, according to Aftab. Teens are told about risks by parents, friends, teachers and media, but they aren’t listening, she said.

“They can tell you the words, but they don’t believe it,” Aftab said. “They think it can be risky, but only for stupid kids. They think it can be a problem, but only for kids who don’t get it. Not them. It doesn’t apply to them.”

Aftab — who says she talks to thousands of teens and parents on a monthly basis — described an exercise in which she asks students to raise their hands if they feel safe online. Invariably, they all raise their hands. Then she asks them to raise their hands if they think their friends are safe online. No students raise their hands.

This indicates that teens understand that bad things can happen. They just aren’t realistic about their own vulnerability, she said.

To get through to teens, Aftab uses several tactics.

First, she tells them to have what she calls “a wired buddy,” someone you trust to talk to about the content you’re putting online. Friends are more protective than we are of ourselves, Aftab said.

She also suggests teens protect their Web pages with passwords. If they feel the need to give out an e-mail address, they should set up a secondary one through a service like Hotmail.

Most important, she said, is to tell kids to think before they click.

“Don’t post anything that you think might embarrass you in a few years,” Aftab said. “Don’t post when you’re out at a slumber party and you’re goofing around. Don’t post when you’re at a frat party and you’re drunk. What you put online stays on forever.”

In addition to getting through to teens, though, Aftab said someone needs to get through to parents. Instead of being outraged, they should make sure their kids “know how to use the technology and are responsible when they do it,” she said.

Aftab compared online social networking to teaching kids about sex and drugs. Instead of telling them not to have sex before they’re married or not to drink before they’re 21, she said, it’s more effective to tell teach them to have safe sex and not to drink and drive.

Which is why Aftab said the worst thing a parent can do is to bar a son or daughter from going to Myspace or a similar site at all. She instead asks parents to “take a breath” and “remember what it was like being 15.”

And remember that kids lie. If your daughter writes that she was drunk at a party on Saturday night, there’s a chance she was really at home in bed.

“They want to sound cooler than they are in real life,” Aftab said.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Finding missing and abducted kids online

We spend a great deal of time teaching kids not to share too much personal information online. But sometimes when they ignore us, the Internet can be used as a tool to find them. Parental abductions, stranger abductions and runaway cases can easily be often solved by searching for that kid on popular websites and social networks.

While the abductor may convince the child to change their last name, the child may still want to frequent their favorite sites and networks. Even if they understand or have been convinced of the risks of disclosing their true identity to anyone, they may be reluctant to give up those points they earned on their favorite game sites or end longterm online friendships.

Recently a missing/runaway children's group contacted me seeking help in locating a runaway they had spotted on myspace. The group informed me that the leading missing and runaway children groups had failed to take any action. I pointed them to the right people at myspace and the child was recovered.

Recently the young teen who had been abducted years ago was found, only to discover that he had a posting online, using his real first name and the assumed last name of his abductor.

When seeking someone online, try their real first name and interests. Nicknames may be continued to be used as well. Look for birthdates, birthplaces and favorite websites and games.

If you find them online, do not reach out to communicate with them until law enforcement has been contacted and has the information they need to locate them offline. If they need help reaching the right person at the site, have them contact me.

This is one time that kids sharing too much info online can be a good thing.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Violence on video network sites

I have been fielding calls from media on violent videos posted online at myspace, youtube and other sites. It's a growing problem and something we are focusing on this year. Law enforcement is focusing on this too and we are holding law enforcement training programs to help them use the networks as investigative tools in finding criminal activities, missing children and criminals online.

I always say that the video features are far more dangerous when abused than anything else online. Kids and teens are posing in the nude, engaging in sexual activities or in mock sexual activities, harassing each other or teachers, administrators, etc., engaging in violent fights or attacks (pre-planned or posed), recruiting gang members, etc. And no software to date has the capability of doing much about this.

What can we do?
Limit webcams and watch the pics and videos your kids shoot using cell phones etc. Keep an eye on the videos they store on their video ipods and think about what other video-capable devices you have in your household.

Then, "have the talk"...
let your kids know the rules and the penalties for breaking them. And don't be afraid to enforce them. It's your job to be unpopular sometimes...

repeat after me "I AM THE PARENT!" "BECAUSE I SAID SO!" "AS LONG AS YOU LIVE UNDER MY ROOF!"....if anything sounds familiar, you may have a mom like mine. If you need any new quotes, let me know and i'll introduce you to her...

It's time.

Let's take back the Net!