MySpace To Launch News Service, May Need Age Checks

MySpace is planning to get into the news business early in the second quarter, according to Terry Heaton’s PoMo Blog…the surprising thing is that it hasn’t happened sooner considering the owner is News Corp. The post appears to quote from MySpace literature (although that’s not explicitly stated):

  • MySpace News takes News to a whole new level by dynamically aggregating real-time news and blogs from top sites around the Web
  • Creates focused, topical news pages that users can interact and engage with throughout their day
  • MySpace is making the news social, allowing users to:
    Rate and comment on every news item that comes through the system
    Submit stories they think are cool and even author pieces from their MySpace blog
  • MySpace users previously had to leave the site to find comprehensive news, gossip, sporting news, etc. With MySpace News, we bring the news to them!

Whether or not this is good or bad news for media providers depends on your point of view, and while there will surely be the temptation for News to restrict the sources to its own publications this would be a bad idea — sites tend to be more successful when they’re as inclusive as possible. News Corp seems to realise this: At the Bear Stearns Media Conference in Florida Peter Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media, said that “News Corp is “in very active negotiations with all the media companies” to bring their content to its MySpace property”, notes Reuters.
Meanwhile, this Reuters story reports that in Connecticut the politicians are debating a bill which would require social networking sites like MySpace to verify users’ ages and force minors to obtain parental consent before posting profiles. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said “an applicant would submit a driver’s license or other form of official identification, and the Internet site should use public information on record to check the age, address and date of birth”. It’s unclear how the drivers license would be submitted, or how the social networking sites would confirm that the person submitting was in fact the owner of the license. The penalty for failing to verify ages and obtain parental permission to post profiles of users under 18 would be up to $5,000 per offence. Blumenthal said that 10-20 other US states were considering similar legislation.

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