The New York Times published a short article today in anticipation of tomorrow's report by a task-force of 49 attorney's general on the danger of online sexual solicitation of minors. They find that, more or less, we've all been worrying about nothing this whole time, and that sexual predators are not a problem on MySpace, Facebook, etc. This is great, because the task force that wrote the report was championed by a bunch of people who were sure it would support fears about online solicitation. Oops!

I love this quote:

This shows that social networks are not these horribly bad neighborhoods on the Internet,” said John Cardillo, chief executive of Sentinel Tech Holding, which maintains a sex offender database and was a member of the task force. “Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons.

I think people like to invent the threats that they can't see. So many older people – parents, teachers, policy makers – aren't tech. savvy enough to realize that the internet isn't some brave new world, it's pretty much like any other social environment. Kids face lots of dangers and hassles in the real world. Ridicule, harassment, bullies… those were certainly part of my young life in the 80s and early 90s, and it's no different today, it's just taken a different form.

Update: And here's the text of the report, which was released today: Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies
Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States