Next week, the California-based site plans to forbid members over 18 years of age from making contact with other members who are 16 or younger unless they know the full names and e-mail addresses of the children.

 

Members will also be able to make information on their web pages accessible only to friends in private networks and allow only members in their age groups to contact them on the site, the company said.

 

The measures follow a series of high profile incidents involving suspected paedophiles using the site to trawl for victims.

 

"There's no way to check age verification -I don't think that's going to be very effective"

Monique Nelson, internet child safety advocate

However, online safety experts have said that the new measures will not stop people from simply lying about their ages.

 

Monique Nelson, executive vice president of online safety advocate Web Wise Kids, said: "They're going to lie about their ages.

 

"There's no way to check age verification. In that respect, I don't think that's going to be very effective."

 

Company 'committed'

 

MySpace has become one of the most popular sites for young people on the internet since its launch in 2004, claiming 87 million members world wide and providing a forum for people to make contact and swap information, music and video.

 

It was bought last year by News Corporation, owned by Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

 

However, several incidents, including a lawsuit filed by the mother of a US teenager who says she was raped by a man she met through the site, have prompted calls for the site's safety procedures to be overhauled.

 

The site currently bans young people aged 13 and under from registering on the website, but the girl was 13 when she registered, as the site has no method for checking the veracity of people's ages.

 

In a statement, MySpace's security director Hemanshu Nigam said the company remained "committed" to child safety.

 

"MySpace is committed to innovating new product features to heighten online safety, particularly in the area of 14- to 15-year olds," he said on Wednesday.