MySpace.com has found and removed more than 29,000 sex offenders with profiles on the popular social networking site, according to state officials on Tuesday.
The newly released figure was a huge jump from 7,000 profiles of sex offenders just two months ago on a site with about 180 million profiles. Roy Cooper, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper along with several others had demanded data on the number of registered sex offenders using the social networking site, owned by News Corp.
"I'm absolutely astonished and appalled because the number has grown so exponentially over so short of time with no explanation," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, according to The Associated Press.
Increasing complaints and concerns over numerous criminal incidents of sexual predators on MySpace had pushed the popular online hangout to develop a database containing names, physical descriptions and other identifiable details on sex offenders in the United States. The new development was announced last December and is in partnership with Sentinel Tech Holding Corp.
That database had initially helped remove about 7,000 profiles of sex offenders. MySpace declined to comment on the latest increased figure, according to AP.
Instead, MySpace chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam said in a released statement, "We're pleased that we've successfully identified and removed registered sex offenders from our site and hope that other social networking sites follow our lead."
Attorney General Cooper is currently pushing for a state law that would require children to receive parental permission before creating social networking profiles. He is also working with law enforcement officials in other states in pressuring MySpace to use age and identify verification methods voluntarily.
"Children use the Internet to make friends, to have conversation, to have romances, to live these fantasies. And there are people out there, unfortunately, that wish to do children wrong," said Brian Lewis, executive director for Covenant with North Carolina's Children, which supports Cooper's bill, according to The Charlotte Observer.
The MySpace sex offenders figure was released as pornography is flooding the American culture. According to comScore Media Metrix, more than a third of the U.S. Internet audience visited sites that fit into the online "adult" category. And 44 percent of males ages 18-34 say viewing pornographic material is morally acceptable, a 2006 Morality in Media study found.
Religious groups have created more alternative social networking sites such as Xianz.com, GodTube.com and MyChurch.org to provide online communities for Christians and the general public without the uncomfortable advertisements or member profiles.