(Adds quotes, background)
NEW YORK Jan 14 Popular online teen hangout
MySpace and 49 U.S. state attorneys general said on Monday they
had agreed on a broad set of guidelines for protecting youths
on the Internet.
MySpace, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp NWSa.N,
agreed to take further steps to ensure safety, including
developing an e-mail registry that would allow parents to
prohibit their kids from creating an online profile for the
network, according to the attorneys general.
Home to 110 million users globally, MySpace will also make
the default profile setting for 16 and 17-year-olds on its site
"private" so they can only be contacted by people they know,
making it harder for predators to find them.
"We're joining forces to find the most effective ways to
keep young children off these sites and to protect the kids who
do use them," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said
in a statement.
"This agreement sets a new standard for social networking
sites that have been quick to grow but slow to recognize their
responsibility to keep kids safe," he said.
MySpace has come under state legal scrutiny in the last two
years after some of its youth members fell prey to adult
predators posing as minors.
MySpace said the general industry guidelines include
policies it has already incorporated, such as reviewing images
and video uploaded to their sites and ensuring that profiles of
the youngest teens on its site are kept private.
"This is an industry-wide challenge and we must all work
together to create a safer Internet," MySpace Chief Security
Officer Hemanshu Nigam said in a statement.
Other measures include educating children and parents about
how to keep safe online and exploring better ways of
authenticating the identities of social network members.
In October, MySpace's smaller rival Facebook and New York
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo agreed to settle a child safety
probe. The social network promised to begin addressing within
24 hours any complaint about inappropriate content and allow an
independent examiner to oversee how it handles the complaints.
Texas did not sign off on the MySpace agreement.
(Reporting by Martha Graybow and Michele Gershberg; Editing by