LOS ANGELES: News Corporation will be running online safety PSAs from The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) on a variety of its properties, including popular social networking Web site MySpace.com.
PSAs will also run during Fox primetime shows and cable channels Fox Sports Network, FX, and National Geographic, as well as online at AmericanIdol.com, Rotten Tomatoes, IGN.com, and in the New York Post.
MySpace, the most popular social networking Web site with over 65 million profiles created, was the subject of a lengthy Dateline piece on Sunday about how online predators can use the service to hide their identity in order to entice young boys and girls to meet up.
"When a particular website or technology enables a cultural shift the way MySpace has done, media are quick to put it under a magnifying glass," said Julie Henderson, SVP of corporate communications for Fox Interactive Media, via e-mail, when asked if she felt the media had been prone to mention MySpace because of its brand recognition. "If we can leverage that attention to educate the public on online safety, we think that's a really good thing."
Tina Schwartz, NCMEC director of communications, said the advocacy group has been working with News Corp. on a number of safety issues and that this announcement was in place before Dateline had begun planning Sunday's story.
"This is only the beginning of our relationship," Schwartz said, adding that her organization was also working with other social networking sites.
"The PSA partnership was in the works ages ago and is one element of our overall strategy to raise awareness on online safety issues," Henderson concurred, though she said the company could not disclose what other safety initiatives it had in the works. "MySpace will continue to take a leadership role in providing a safe community for both its adult and younger users."
MySpace also hired Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam, a former Justice Department prosecutor, as chief security officer.
"MySpace has made this a priority, and, by announcing they're hiring a new security chief sends a clear message, 'This is important to us,'" Schwartz said. She said the campaign was important because parents had a mistaken idea about what it means to "monitor their childrens' online activities."
"A lot of parents told us they monitor their children's online activities, but [it amounts to being] only allowed on for two hours a day," Schwartz said, adding that time spent online is less important that how and where they are spending that time.
She also stressed the importance of educating teens because, even if parents take away computer access at home, they can find ways to access Web sites elsewhere.
"We really need to get them to stop and think that this is a public area," Schwartz said.
Sponsored by NCMEC and created pro bono by Merkley + Partners, the PSAs direct viewers and online users to a NCMEC Web site Cybertipline.com. Two PSAs will run, one of which has been in circulation since 2004 and the other since 2005, generating exposure of $82 million in donated media.