Kevin Poulsen over at Wired has an amazing story about how he wrote a program that compared MySpace profiles with registered sex offenders. Poulsen's investigation ended up in the jailing of Andrew Lubrano for soliciting sex from a minor online:
"In May, I began an automated search of MySpace's membership rolls for 385,932 registered sex offenders in 46 states, mined from the Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Registry Web site -- a gateway to the state-run Megan's Law Web sites around the country. I searched on first and last names, limiting results to a five-mile radius of the offender's registered ZIP code.
Wired News will publish the code under an open-source license later this week.
The code swept in a vast number of false or unverifiable matches. Working part time for several months, I sifted the data and manually compared photographs, ages and other data, until enhanced privacy features MySpace launched in June began frustrating the analysis.
Excluding a handful of obvious fakes, I confirmed 744 sex offenders with MySpace profiles, after an examination of about a third of the data. Of those, 497 are registered for sex crimes against children. In this group, six of them are listed as repeat offenders, though Lubrano's previous convictions were not in the registry, so this number may be low. At least 243 of the 497 have convictions in 2000 or later."
As Poulsen points out, this only works with sex offenders who are A.) registered and B.) obtuse enough to use their own names. But it does show that certainly some sexual predators are using MySpace as a hunting ground.
(via Boing Boing)