City Attorney Settles Suit Seeking Protections For Minors Using Social Networking Site

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced the settlement of a lawsuit he filed last year against social networking site MeetMe alleging the company failed to protect teen users’ privacy and safety.

Herrera filed a civil suit against the company in February 2014 alleging the company’s inadequate privacy protections made children between the ages of 13 and 17 vulnerable to being targeted by sexual predators, stalkers and unscrupulous companies. The company does not allow children under the age of 13 to use the site.

Herrera today filed a dismissal of the case in San Francisco Superior Court and hailed changes the company has made to its privacy and safety protections for minors as “groundbreaking” in the field of location-based networking.

“Company officials thoughtfully and responsibly considered the violations we alleged under California law, and ultimately aspired to remedies even beyond those we sought,” Herrera said in a statement.

“It’s an approach that will serve consumers well, and hopefully also set an industry standard for all social networks at a time when they are increasingly accessed through mobile devices,” Herrera said.

MeetMe agreed to not identify the locations of minors more specifically than their city and state, and will not display their proximity to other users more than “within one mile.” The default setting for location sharing will also be set to “off” for minors.

In addition, the company has agreed to streamline and simplify its privacy policies and settings to make them easier to understand and access.

The company also agreed to pay the city attorney’s office $200,000 to cover legal fees for the case.

MeetMe officials released a statement today about the settlement.

“MeetMe takes the safety of our users very seriously. We work cooperatively with law enforcement across the country and worked collaboratively to address the concerns of the San Francisco City Attorney,” the statement said.

“We believe the outcome is a positive one for the company and for our audience and look forward to continuing to innovate and improve our service,” the statement said.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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