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Statement by John Phillips, President and CEO of Aristotle, Regarding the Change in Executive Leadership at MySpace
Feb 11, 2010 (06:02 PM EST)


WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Yesterday's resignation by former CEO Owen Van Natta is not totally surprising, given MySpace's continued losses in advertising, search revenues, and traffic. What is shocking, however, is that the senior leadership at NewsCorp and Fox Interactive remains in positions of power despite the significant mishandling of the scandal involving the discovery of more than 90,000 convicted sex offenders on NewsCorp's flagship social networking site.

MySpace could have taken the steps to notify any parents whose children were contacted by convicted sex offenders, including changing terms of service to allow greater disclosure of sex offenders' conduct.  That's what a responsible company with responsible management would have done.  To my knowledge, they didn't, presumably afraid of the negative publicity.

It's time to clean house.  If any NewsCorp (Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA) or Fox executives kept parents in the dark about contacts their children may have had with any of MySpace's 90,000+ convicted sex offenders, they should resign. This includes Lawrence (Lon) Jacobs, the Senior Executive Vice President and Group General Counsel of NewsCorp, who joined Aristotle's board following Aristotle's public questioning of NewsCorp over the handling of the sex offender matter.  

Events like the arrest last week by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Fugitive Unit of a repeat sex offender using MySpace are a constant reminder that we need to remain vigilant. To quote AG Abbott: "Friday's arrest is another stark reminder for parents whose children have profiles on social networking sites. Until true age verification technology is implemented, convicted sex offenders will continue illegally using MySpace.com and other networking sites to establish an online presence. All Texans must remain vigilant about the dangers posed by online sexual predators."(1)

Abbott is right.  MySpace isn't doing nearly enough to protect our children.  Mr. Murdoch can explain why when the Attorneys General gather in Washington two weeks from today.  Ultimately, if Mr. Murdoch doesn't attempt to undo the damage that has been done, or if he can't or won't take responsibility, it's time for him to go as well.

Background

Over the past two years, MySpace's own estimates of how many Registered Sex Offenders maintained accounts on the site varied widely before reaching the last-reported figure of 90,000+.  MySpace had reportedly deleted the accounts of the first 90,000 registered sex offenders. Rupert Murdoch, Lon Jacobs and NewsCorp received numerous inquiries from parents, through an Aristotle-sponsored website (www.childonlineprotectionservice.com), asking if their children had been contacted by sex offenders on MySpace.  Parents wishing to make such a request may still do so at www.childonlineprotectionservice.org.

About Aristotle

Aristotle International is recognized as a global pioneer in political technology, providing indispensable tools to those who seek to use the Democratic process to influence decisions at the ballot box. Every occupant of the White House -- Democrat and Republican -- for more than 25 years has been an Aristotle customer, as are many U.S. Senators, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Democratic and Republican state party organizations. For information about career opportunities or for client inquiries, go to www.aristotle.com. NewsCorp, through its affiliate, EPartners, owns 13% of Aristotle. Lon Jacobs was appointed as EPartners' representative on Aristotle's Board of Directors last year. Phillips also is a shareholder of NewsCorp.

About Integrity

Integrity is Aristotle's Identity and Age Verification service utilizing government-issued IDs, among other data sources, to bring instantaneous age and identity verification to life. Aristotle's technology platform is the most widely accepted identity and age verification service deployed for instantly verifying government-issued IDs for citizens worldwide. The service operates across various platforms, including online, interactive voice response (IVR), wireless and other mobile devices. More than 50 million consumers have had their identities verified with Integrity when transacting with global Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies and merchants.

(1) http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/blotter/entries/2010/02/10/sex_offender_arrested_for_paro.html?cxntfid=blogs_the_blotter

SOURCE Aristotle