MySpace’s Tom Anderson has been discovered as misrepresenting his age. Newsweek obtained [link via KCHBlog] documents that reveal Tom’s birth date — making him 37 — not 33. MySpace officially states that misrepresenting age will result in account deletion:
[…] We take extra precautions to protect our younger members and we are not able to do so if they do not identify themselves as such. MySpace will delete users whom we find to be younger than 14, or those misrepresenting their age. […]
I guess when MySpace was on its way to being popular, Tom Anderson wanted to be cool, and be in his mid twenties and not thirties.
I might sound like an ass, but if the #1 user/public relations person can misrepresent their age, even by four years, why should the rest of the users be held accountable for it? What good is the age if even the company’s own representative fails to comply with this basic guideline? I understand that he isn’t the only one, and I feel for him because he’s on the hook in this way — but the company hasn’t spun any damage control yet, nor any response from Tom.
I imagine that someone might reply with “But Tom is an adult and didn’t hurt anyone,” but my response to that is two parts:
* Yes, he’s an adult +/- four years. His actions should reflect what’s within MySpace’s guidelines, and set the example for others. If he was 20, is it appropriate for him to represent that he’s 16? Where do we draw the line in this — we can’t because in America age is important because it authorizes you to purchase alcohol, tobacco, adult magazines, firearms, and the age of sexual consent.
* He didn’t hurt anyone, except for all the users who were deleted for providing false age.
What do I expect to be the outcome of all of this? Well, it would be laughable to see Tom’s profile get deleted … but I know that’s very unlikely. It would be more reasonable for Tom to correct his age information and do a blog entry about why his age differed and what the guideline is for users. I’m not the only one who feels this way, TechCrunch broke this on Oct 23rd and there still hasn’t been any change to his profile’s age!
If you’re interested, my age on social networking sites (work related or not), I don’t lie about my age. I don’t disclose my birthday for security reasons, but on all of them, I am listed as being born in 1985, making me 22.
Should Tom change his age or is it OK for someone to misrepresent their age on these social networking Web sites? Let me know what you think in the comments.