MySpace, News Corp. (NWSA:US)'s social-networking Web site, tightened its rules to deter predators and started to distribute Amber alerts for missing children.
The Web site will block users over 18 from contacting users under that age and will limit instant messaging to users listed on each person's friend list, MySpace said today in a statement.
MySpace, which hosts more than 150 million personal pages, increased restrictions to protect young users after being sued this month over claims that five teenage girls were sexually abused by adults they met on the site. The Amber alerts, which are urgent bulletins about abducted kids issued by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, went live today.
``MySpace is one solution to get that information out to the public in a quick and easy way,'' said Bob Hoever, associate director of training at the Alexandria, Virginia-based center. ``The more eyes and ears you have out there, the better.''
Notices will be sent to all MySpace users who are within the postal Zip codes that have been used to broadcast an Amber alert, the Los Angeles-based company said.
The Amber alert program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters and transportation authorities to broadcast urgent bulletins regarding abductions. It has helped recover 314 children since its creation 11 years ago, Hoever said.
The program was named after Amber Hagerman, 9, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1996 in Arlington, Texas. The crime remains unsolved.
In addition to the new age-based restrictions, all MySpace users must now provide a valid e-mail address to sign up and confirm their membership, the company said. MySpace said it removes an average 25,000 profiles each week because of age misrepresentation.
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