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Black Pastors Call for an End to Online Slumlords and Applaud MySpace Parental Notification

Contact: Bil Mooney-McCoy, Safe Families, 617-282-9798 ext 105; Andrew Sears, TechMission, 617-282-9798 ext 101

MEDIA ADVISORY, Jan. 23 /Christian Newswire/ -- Black pastors from across the country are calling for an end to online slumlords. Bil Mooney-McCoy, a Black pastor and Director of the SafeFamilies program explained the issue, “Urban communities are always the first to be preyed upon. When social networking sites create an online community without adequate concern with safety, they are the online equivalent of slumlords. Slumlords make a profit while fostering unsafe communities that become a haven for drugs, gangs and perpetrators; online slumlords create online communities that are havens for perpetrators.”

Social networking sites are increasingly becoming vehicles for social deviants and urban communities are often targeted. Just last week, Chicago area police charged two women with pimping girls as young as 14 through the social networking site Craiglist.org. TechMission's SafeFamilies is the largest online safety program focused particularly urban communities. TechMission represents over 100 member organizations that are Black churches/ministries and over 400 organizations in low-income communities through its association AC4. Last year, TechMission challenged cybersquatters that used hijacked domain names of civil rights leaders to target the urban community.

TechMission’s goal is to empower people with tools and training to help create safe communities online. To help enable this, TechMission presented a number of suggestions to MySpace this past fall (http://www.safefamilies.org/docs/myspace.ppt). The main features suggested were tools that could help parents and community leaders contribute to the safety of the online community. Many of these suggestions have been implemented in MySpace’s Parental Notification system.

Andrew Sears, Executive Director of TechMission, commented on the importance of providing tools to enable community safety: “Social networking sites are just like neighborhoods—some are safe and some aren’t. You will have some neighborhoods that are dominated by slumlords that don’t care about safety. Other neighborhoods have community associations where parents watch out for each other’s kids to increase safety. MySpace is giving a strong signal that they want to be the safe neighborhood online by providing parents with tools to be notified of their children’s safety. Some other social networking sites have not yet taken such a stance.”

Andrew Sears is the founder and Executive Director of TechMission. Before TechMission, he co-founded the Internet and Telecoms Consortium at MIT, which is a multidisciplinary research group studying the social and business implications of the Internet.

Contact: 617-282-9798 x105 Bil Mooney-McCoy or Andrew Sears (x101) or visit http://www.safefamilies.org/press.php for a press kit.