Investigators with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbotts Cyber Crimes and Fugitive Units have arrested 14 previously convicted sex offenders who illegally created profiles on MySpace.com.
After receiving a subpoena from Attorney General Abbott earlier this year, MySpace.com provided investigators with a list of registered sex offenders who use the popular social networking site.
These arrests are a stark reminder for parents whose children use social networking sites, Attorney General Abbott said. Each of the 14 convicted sex offenders was arrested for illegally using MySpace.com to establish an online presence.
By sharing a user profile database with law enforcement, MySpace.com is providing critical information to law enforcement," Abbott said. "Other social networking sites should follow MySpace.coms lead, partner with law enforcement, and help protect their online users from criminals who use the Internet to prey on children.
Last month, a College Station, Texas, man who used MySpace.com to sexually solicit someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Abbott's office prosecuted Guadalupe "Wally" DeLaGarza, 27, for using the Internet to prey on children.
DeLaGarza was arrested in July 2006 when he arrived in Shenandoah with a handgun, rope restraints, condoms, and a digital camera to meet and sexually assault the young teen he targeted on the popular social networking Web site. The online profile actually belonged to an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit investigator.
DeLaGarza pleaded guilty to attempted sexual performance by a child, a third-degree felony. Upon release, he will be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years. At the time of his arrest, DeLaGarza indicated he was a graduate student at Texas A&M University.
MySpace and a similar site, Facebook, are currently the darlings of the Internet publishing world. Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace for $580 million two years ago and both Microsoft and Google are said to be angling for at least a minority share in Facebook.
Two state attorneys general say the popular networking site Facebook has "a long way to go" before they're satisfied it is adequately protecting children and young adults from sexual predators.
Earlier this week, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo subpoenaed Facebook documents and revealed that his office has been conducting an undercover investigation of Facebook's security procedures.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper have been conducting a 50-state investigation into Facebook, which may become the target of a bidding war between Microsoft and Google. Facebook has stolen much of the limelight from Rupert Murdoch's MySpace, which has instituted a new database method of tracking sexual predators and blocking them from the site.
The New York probe has involved the use of undercover investigators posing as underage girls. Cuomo said the agents were repeatedly solicited by adult sexual predators on Facebook and could easily access a wide range of pornographic images and videos,
Cuomo also alleges that there are significant defects in the sites safety controls and the companys response to complaints - deficiencies that stand in contrast to the reassuring statements made on the website and by company officials.
My office is concerned that Facebook's promise of a safe website is not consistent with its performance in policing its site and responding to complaints, Cuomo said. Parents have a right to know what their children will encounter on a website that is aggressively marketed as safe.
Online publishers like social networking sites because users esssentially provide free content. Also, users tend to stay on the sites for longer periods of time than other types of sites, enabling publishers to display more ads per visit.