AUSTIN — An investigator posing as a 13-year-old girl with a profile on MySpace.com helped officers nab a man for the second time in five months on charges that he was using the Internet to solicit sex from a minor.
The second arrest of John David Payne prompted Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to urge MySpace and other social networking Web sites to increase efforts to protect children and teenagers from explicit images and sexual solicitations.
“This shows how aggressive and how dangerous these child predators are,” Abbott said Monday at a summit he hosted to discuss online criminal activity. “Even a one-time law enforcement arrest is not going to stop predators like this.”
About 300 government officials, law enforcement officers and representatives from technology companies attended the summit to talk about ways to make the Internet safer.
Payne was arrested in December after he arrived in Bastrop for an alleged sexual rendezvous with what he thought was an underage teen he met on the Internet.
While he was awaiting trial, he was arrested again May 10, after he allegedly engaged in graphic sexual conversation with an investigator posing as a teen on MySpace. He also solicited sex from a different investigator posing as another girl in a separate chat room.
A spokeswoman for Abbott said their office has had MySpace profiles for some time, but Payne’s arrest was one of the first to stem from that site.
Abbott said Web sites like MySpace, a social networking hub with more 72 million members, should make it harder to find profiles belonging to underage youth and should use software that automatically scans all uploaded photographic images and blocks those that are pornographic.
A spokesman for Myspace did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has been working with MySpace to identify ways to make it more difficult for young people to put up too much information about themselves, said Michelle Collins, director of the center’s exploited children unit.
The center also has partnered with the site for a campaign to teach teenagers how to protect themselves online.
“There isn’t any one solution that’s going to solve the problem,” she said. “It’s really going to be by joining collective forces that we can have the biggest impact.”
At least they’re not making ridiculous demands like Massachusetts.