The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 23, 2007; 12:52 AM
LOS ANGELES -- The social-networking Web site MySpace.com will now distribute Amber alerts to members notifying them of missing children in their communities.
MySpace, a News Corp. unit, is teaming with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to distribute the alerts, which are triggered by law-enforcement officials.
The online alerts, which will begin Tuesday, will be sent to all users in the ZIP codes where it was issued. They will appear in a small text box at the top of a user's portfolio. The user can click on the box for more information, including a photo of the missing child and a description of the suspect.
The alerts were named for Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl killed in Texas in 1996.
MySpace also announced two safety features designed to protect members' privacy.
The site will now require people signing up for an account to provide a working e-mail address and verify their identity by responding to an e-mail sent to the listed address. This is a practice common with other online services, but MySpace has been hesitant thus far because of fears the confirmation messages might end up mistakenly in spam filters.
The site, open only to those 14 and over, will also offer a tool to prevent any member under age 18 from being contacted by adults, and vice versa. The tool, however, is optional and relies on self-reported ages.
MySpace recently said it was developing software that will allow parents to learn of their child's use of MySpace and be notified of usernames, ages and locations they use in their personal profile pages.