A 14-year-old Texas girl is suing MySpace for $30 million, alleging that a man who misrepresented himself on the site sexually assaulted her. Within days of receiving an online message from the 19-year-old, who claimed to be a high school senior and football player, the girl says she gave him her cellphone number and agreed to have him pick her up from school for dinner and a movie. After the movie, however, he drove her to a parking lot and allegedly assaulted her.
In the girl’s (and her mother’s and her lawyer’s) mind, MySpace (the third most viewed Internet site in the world) is at fault because it doesn’t verify the information that its estimated 80 million members put online. The girl’s lawyer says this lawsuit will be precedent-setting. Indeed, if it’s successful, one might mount a crippling class-action suit with the number of young girls who’ve been wronged by men they met online.
The News Corp.-owned social networking site just announced that it will heighten
security measures by hiring a chief security officer, allowing members to hide their profiles from strangers, and prohibiting members over 18 from contacting 14- and 15-year-olds whose full names they don’t know. But these efforts probably have less to do with this lawsuit and more to do with