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Tech Notes

Little Mermaid, Spongebob, and Care Bears with a Side of Porn
By Lorelei McCollough
Nov 7, 2007 - 7:07:47 PM

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A Warning to Parents: Children exposed to pornographic images while searching for MySpace decorations.

Kids looking for hearts and flowers for their MySpace pages are being subjected without warning to images of porn, drugs, and alcohol. Even more disturbing, many of these explicit images are viewed along side of popular cartoon characters and cute pictures of little animals.

During a routine survey of web traffic trends, discovered that one of the most popular web searches was looking for backgrounds, layouts, and graphics to decorate MySpace pages. We entered "myspace backgrounds" in Google and were shocked to find that each of the top 10 sites found by the Google search contained or linked to explicit content.

The sites contain photos and animations of naked people engaged in various sex acts including bondage, numerous graphics of drugs, alcohol, and vulgar language. Little Mermaid and Lion King’s Simba next to a thong model on a bed. A cute little puppy avatar sandwiched between the Pillsbury Doughboy pointing a gun with the quote "Bitch" above his head and a cartoon penis with a lewd caption. Power Puff girls and My Little Pony graphics under backgrounds themes of marijuana plants. (Click here to see photos of screenshots. Warning: Contains explicit material.)

Some of these sites had the initial appearance of being as innocuous as the search term used to find them. Why would a parent have any concern about their child looking for a Hello Kitty avatar for their instant message or question which site their child found the butterfly background on for their MySpace page?

Until now, these sites have existed under the radar of parents and the law. (It’s unlikely Disney, Warner Bros., or Nickelodeon would give licensing rights that include having their characters pictured next to porn.)

How can something this appalling be so rampant? These sites make money from web traffic and with searches registering in the millions for MySpace graphics, any site placing on the first page of a Google search is sure to pull in the big bucks and evidently few have qualms about exploiting children in the process.

by Lorelei McCollough

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