It's Just Not a Good Week to be Myspace

Myspace is one of the most popular social networking sites in the world, and with that popularity comes a lot of attention. Unfortunately for the site, much of the attention this week has been focused on controversy and crime.

First out of the gate was news that a convicted hacker had been charged with extortion for seizing an 18-year-old model's Myspace page. Apparently, the man — identified as Jeffrey Weinberg, who had only recently been released from prison for hacking Lexis-Nexis — demanded nude photos and phone sex in exchange for releasing the girl's profile. He's currently being held on extortion and other charges, and may end up facing federal charges as well.

The company's name was back in the news mid-week — through no fault of their own, however, — after an Australian teen advertised a party on Myspace and was joined by an intimate group of 500 party-goers, a group that took thirty police officers, a dog squad, and a helicopter to break up. The teen, whose parents were away on vacation, has since gone on the lamb, and has been offered $10,000 by a party planner to book repeat performances. The police, for their part, are suitably perturbed, and are considering sending the wild and wolly party child the $20,000 cleanup bill.

The week started to look up with the announcement that Myspace would be cooperating with the Attorneys General of 49 states to combat online predators and make the web safe for children. Unfortunately, the positive vibes didn't last very long, as news surfaced of a long-known hack of Myspace's privacy features — allowing users to obtain supposedly private photos of Myspace users — and a virtual cottage industry that has arisen around providing the photos to online pedophiles.

In short, not the best week to be the social network, but at least they don't have enraged Scrabble fans to contend with.

UPDATE: Myspace has subsequently fixed the privacy vulnerability, according to follow-up reports from Wired.

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