April 11, 2006 -- The social networking Web site MySpace.com, is arguably the most popular hangout for teens in cyberspace.
But with the site's popularity have also come criticisms that it leaves kids vulnerable to online predators and can sometimes expose them to inappropriate material.
"It's a pornography hole, okay, that's what it is," said Rebecca Hagelin a vice president with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank.
Now, in an effort to improve their image, MySpace is taking some serious steps to crack down on those that would take advantage of the site's young population.
Today, MySpace announced the hiring of former federal prosecutor Hemanshu Nigam as the company's chief security officer.
"Hemu is a proven leader in online safety and security. We are fortunate to have him join MySpace, help us educate the public and protect our members' safety and privacy," said Chris DeWolfe, CEO of MySpace in a statement. "MySpace has always been committed to an industry leading role in internet safety and will continue to partner with all stakeholders including parents, educators, law enforcement and safety groups."
The site is also running public service announcements on the Web and on TV, warning kids and their parents about the dangers that may await them on the Internet.
The ads are part of a coordinated effort with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
MySpace became the second most visited site on the Web by offering videos, music, blogs and the opportunity for members to post their own personal profiles. The site now has more than 60 million members — many of them young.
Through those personal profiles, members can link to countless other people creating networks that can sometimes include hundreds of contacts.
As part of its effort to better protect children using the site, MySpace has also deleted tens of thousands of profiles created by those under 14 years old.
Since its creation, MySpace claims its deleted more than 250,000 profiles of underage members.