MySpace sued by families of sexually abused teens

Four families sue popular social-networking site, charging recklessness, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

NEW YORK ( -- Four families have sued the popular social-networking site MySpace and its owner, News Corp., after their teenage daughters were solicited online and sexually abused by adults they met on the site, lawyers for the families said Thursday.

The Texas law firms of Arnold and Itkin of Houston and Barry and Loewy of Austin said that families from New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas filed suits Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, charging recklessness, fraud and negligent misrepresentation by the companies.

"In our view, MySpace waited entirely too long to attempt to institute meaningful security measures that effectively increase the safety of their underage users," Arnold and Itkin lawyer Jason Itkin said in a statement.

He told that the families would be seeking "probably in the millions of dollars... enough to get the attention of a service like MySpace." He said it was up to each family to determine the monetary damages they wanted to seek.

"Blaming the families of abuse victims who were solicited online, as some have done, is a cynical excuse that ignores the fact that social networking sites can lead to heinous abuse by Internet predators," said Adam Loewy of Barry & Loewey. "It is now clear that MySpace recognizes that serious security problems exist."

MySpace said it had taken appropriate precautionary measures.

"MySpace serves as an industry leader on Internet safety and we take proactive measures to protect our members," said Hemanshu Nigam, the site's chief security officer, in a statement. "We provide users with a range of tools to enable a safer online experience."

"Ultimately, Internet safety is a shared responsibility. We encourage everyone to apply common sense offline safety lessons in their online experiences and engage in open family dialogue about smart web practices," he added.

Shares of News Corp. (up $0.40 to $22.96, Charts) rose 1.7 percent on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday.

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