Thursday, February 23, 2006
7 News Features: Myspace
They're all the rage - websites where teenagers socialize across the country. At first glance, they might look innocent. But as investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero reports in this special assignment report, one site has beome so dangerous, you enter at your own risk.
WSVN--Girl: "Nobody does it like me."
Guy: "It doesn't matter as long as I get sex."
Girl: "I used him in the sack."
These are quotes from Myspace.com - a web site that has captured the imagination of teens and pre teens across the country.
Children as young as ten create their own web pages for free.
Most post innocent information like their favorite music.
But others include sexually explicit language and pictures.
Sharon MacIvor: "I was shocked actually that these girls were posing these ways that was very similar to some of the pornographic magazines that are being published."
When veterinarian Sharon Macivor discovered her 14-year-old daughter was on Myspace, she went online to check it out.
She says her daughter's site was ok - but others by local kids - were not.
Sharon MacIvor: "There was one child in a position in a sexual type position, there was another photograph of a child drinking."
Macivor wondered if she could easily access these pages who else could?
Sharon MacIvor: "It was disturbing because I know as an adult that there are other people on the internet besides children."
And with 55 million users - you can be sure not everybody is who or what they claim to be.
Carmel Cafiero: "How easy is it to deceive other users? I even signed on claiming to be a 14 year old and within a day, a male with a sexually oriented site was trying to contact me."
Sgt. Bradley Rosh: "It's really scary Carmel."
Sergeant Bradley Rosh is a member of the Miami Electronic Crime Task Force.
From the secret service office - he demonstrated how easy it is for predators to prowl Myspace.
In a matter of minutes he found kids with so much personal information posted - they could be tracked down with very little effort.
Sgt. Bradley Rosh: "Kids are very vulnerable and anybody can find out who these individuals are, they can go to the school."
But predators aren't the only concern.
Kids can spread ugly rumors about each other with just the click of a mouse.
Mom: "I was outraged."
This Broward County mom learned that the hard way.
Her 16-year-old son has been victimized on Myspace.
Neither one wants to be identified on camera, but the boy says someone pretending to be him claimed to be gay.
16-year-old: "My girlfriend told me that a couple of kids went up to her talking about - so your boyfriend's gay or something."
And it got worse.
His face was edited onto pictures - some pornographic.
Mom: "They put his face on top - complete face - complete body. The the bottom had like - bottom down - completely naked."
According to psychologist Wilhelmina Koedam, that kind of taunting can scar a young person for life.
Dr. Wilhelmina Koedam: "I think those kids that are malicious that are out to hurt with vendettas or harassing or whatever - now have a venue that can just ruin a child's self esteem totally."
Myspace, meanwhile, says it monitors the site twenty-four seven...
And says it takes action when alerted to inappropriate content.
But once the comment is made or the picture sent - the damage is done.
Mom: "First time I ever saw him cry. The first time I ever saw him cry."
Basically, for Myspace users - and their parents - it's enter at your own risk.
Carmel Cafiero: "St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale recently suspened a dozen students for what they were saying on Myspace. Public schools don't have the same after school reach."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Parental Safety Tips