The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Instagram

Is MySpace really your space?

The dark side of one of the most popular Internet Web sites

Josie Brown did not return home after a first date with a young man she had recently become friends with on MySpace.com. John Gaumer, charged with first-degree murder, admitted to beating Brown to death and then throwing her body down an embankment.

Web sites such as MySpace allow users to chat with friends, create blogs and post pictures and music.

MySpace has approximately 61 million members and continues to grow each day. People of all ages use the Web site as a diary, yearbook and dating service all in one.

As a result, the availability of personal information makes the Internet a virtual playground for voyeurs. Predators take advantage of this enormous network and make the Internet more dangerous than ever before.

“It’s one-stop shopping for sexual predators, and they can shop by catalogue,” says Parry Aftab, Internet lawyer and safety expert.

Some refer to the Internet as a place that allows people to be whoever they want to be. Predators often use false information in hopes of capturing the interest of their victims.

Kristen Johnson, a student at Abilene Christian University, befriended an individual known as Jason, who claimed to be a student at Lipscomb University.

Pleasantly surprised at the many things they had in common, Johnson and the individual began to talk more often and a relationship seemed to form. The individual asked for Johnson’s phone number and they text-messaged back and forth for about two weeks.

Eventually, Johnson received a message which read, “I’m not who you think I am. My name is Jill.” Johnson’s assumed online relationship with a male turned out to be a relationship with a female. Johnson said she felt naïve and misled.

“This was a reality check for me. Something much worse could have transpired,” she said.

Other predators go about their work in a more devious manner that often leaves the victim in a worse condition. Sophomore Marisa Dillahunty shared a frightening story involving her two teenage sisters that both have MySpace accounts.

Dillahunty’s sisters began receiving phone calls from an unknown male up to 15 times a day. They had both of their cell phone numbers changed, and the calls stopped.

A week later Dillahunty’s father spotted a stranger trying to climb up the balcony in their backyard. He called the police, but they were not able to catch him. Fortunately, the individual called the Dillahunty’s home phone, and the number was tracked. Police arrested the individual, and he was then issued a restraining order.

“The scariest part of it all is that my sisters had minimal personal information listed on their profiles. They had listed the name of their high school and each of their screen names. This man simply found their cell phone numbers through their away messages on AIM and referred to their high school to find the neighborhood we live in,” Dillahunty said.

An article from USA Today shows that two-thirds of all college students have an account with sites such as MySpace.

While these sites are a convenient way for students to network and stay in touch with friends, everyone must be aware of the dangers they face when allowing strangers to view their personal information.

Displaying phone numbers and addresses should always be avoided, but there are countless alternative ways that a predator can locate a person through the Internet.

Students should be cautious when giving the name of their employers, listing a class schedule or even organizations they are involved in.

Pictures in front of a house or car can give a predator plenty of information to work with.

One of the most beneficial ways to prevent online predation is to only allow real-life friends and acquaintances to view anything posted on networking Web sites.

More to Discover