MySpace, 49 U.S. states agree on Web safety steps

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NEW YORK, Jan 14 (Reuters) - 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 Derek Caney)

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