Tuesday, Attorney General Anne Milgram asked a dozen Internet social networking sites to determine whether convicted New Jersey sex offenders have created profiles on their Web sites, following reports that the popular networking site MySpace had identified 29,000 profiles on its site that had been created by convicted sex offenders.
Milgram wrote to 12 other social networking sites asking them to conduct a similar review of individuals who have created profiles on their sites. At least 269 convicted New Jersey sex offenders had profiles on MySpace, according to information provided by MySpace in response to civil subpoenas issued by the Attorney General.
Milgram said she expected that MySpace users had profiles on other social networking sites and wanted to guard against those convicted sex offenders whose profiles were removed by MySpace simply switching to other Internet sites.
"MySpace's identification of such a large number of registered sex offenders on its site underscores the need for awareness and action by all networking sites,'' Milgram said. "Together we can make the Internet safer from the dangers posed by sexual predators who may use social networking sites to search for and contact potential victims.''
The attorney general said the state would assist the Web sites in their review by providing them with information about New Jersey residents convicted of sex offenses. But she also noted that information about certain convicted sex offenders is publicly available through New Jersey's Sex Offender Registry.
The attorney general's letter was sent to Xanga.com, Facebook, Community Connect, TagWorld, Bebo, MyYearbook.com, Tagged, Friendster, LiveJournal, Imeem, Hi5, and Gaia Online.
The Attorney General's Office has issued three subpoenas to MySpace, following the disclosure earlier this year that the Web site, through a partnership with an identity verification firm, had been able to identify convicted sex offenders with profiles on the Web site. Once identified, the profiles were deleted.
Information obtained from the subpoenas disclosed that there were 269 registered New Jersey sex offenders with MySpace profiles. Among that group, State Parole Board and State Probation officials identified 109 individuals who are on probation or parole. The State Parole Board charged one individual who appeared on the list of MySpace users with a parole violation related to Internet use.
Information provided by MySpace has included names, e-mail addresses and IP addresses of convicted sex offenders who had registered with state authorities. It has not yet been determined how their time was spent on the Web. (For example, whether they had been in contact with minors.) The 141 convicted New Jersey sex offenders initially identified with MySpace profiles had logged onto MySpace 34,000 times during the time they were registered with the networking site, which ranged from a few months to two years. Many individuals logged onto the site hundreds of times.
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