I don't even mess around with MySpace too often these days, just because it's become so overrun with spammers and shitty rappers. But if I get really bored, I might spend a few hours clicking through my pages of so-called friends just to pass the time. And I'll admit: Every once in a while I'll come across the profile of a broad who may or may not be 18 years old, but damn it if she isn't built like she is anyway!

Then I'll close that window and find some other way to bide my time. Because looking at pictures of underage girls on the Internets is just wrong.

Also, profiles of girls under a certain age are set to private by default, in an attempt to thwart the efforts of any sexual predators who might be lurking about the social networking site. If a girl who was, say, 15, wanted whatever hotness is going on in her photo album to be accessible by any ol' perv on the Internets, she'd probably have to lie and say she was 18 - though I'm not sure if that defense would stand up in court. (I'll let someone else try it first.)

Because I'm both dumb and lazy not trying to go to jail, it never occurred to me that there might be some way around this. Apparently there is though. If you click on the photo link on a profile that's set to private, you'll get some message along the lines of, "This profile is set to private. You have to be added as this person's friend to view it." But a lot of people who set their profiles to private don't bother to also set their photo albums to private as well. So with a little rudimentary haX0ring, you can still use the person's URL to access their pictures.

A few months ago, some poor bastard with more dedication and (perhaps) more technical savvy than yours truly figured this out. Since then, an entire cottage industry has sprung up to help guys who've got the house to themselves for the evening access the pictures on profiles set to private. Supposedly, there's now a whole slew of ad-supported websites you can go to, type in the URL of a private MySpace profile, and have access to all of their pictures.

A story on WIRED the other day, which is where I read about this, didn't bother to provide any links to said website, perhaps because it would be in violation of their acceptable use policy. And I'll have to ask: If you know the URLs to any of these sites, please don't post them in the comments section. Lord knows I don't need the temptation.

I did find it hilarious though that one of the main sources quoted in the article, in order to prove that there really are such sick bastards out there on the Internets, was a message board from a hip-hop site, SOHH, which apparently had its own pedophile army.

To wit:

The photo-gallery backdoor has been discussed on message boards for at least three months. In an October post on the music-oriented forum sohh.com, a user asked a contingent of self-described "pedos" for help in accessing the photos of a 16-year-old girl who caught his eye online. "I got a mission for all you pedo soldiers," he wrote, explaining that the girl's profile was private.


And wouldn't you know, there was someone else on SOHH who was more than eager to lend his services.

"I can get them. I know a way around it," another forum member responded. Minutes later, he posted direct links to 43 photos of the girl. By request, he posted links the next day for another 12 photos, belonging to a 15-year-old girl whose profile is also private. Sohh.com later banned a number of users who called themselves a "pedo army," for posting MySpace photo links for underage girls.

Ah, the virtues of a strong community!

A few things I should note:

First of all, no one's accusing the good people at SOHH of condoning or purposely facilitating the exchange of such material. When you run a website where anyone and everyone can sign up, obviously you run the risk of some shit like that happening. To suggest that there's any connection between the content presented on a website and the people who come to read said content would be presumptuous to say the least. And as the story says, they've since taken steps to rid the site of the Pedo Army.

Also, this site has its own message board, though I'm not sure how often anyone ever uses it. I didn't bother to check, but it could very well be the case that XXL has its own pedophile army. If so, here's hoping the TIs at Harris are as adamant about deleting offensive material from the message boards as they are from the blogs. I could fuck around and get kicked out of my apartment just by association.

Finally, I think I speak for us all when I say that it would be nice (convenient, even) if TPAR would enlighten us to the legal ramifications of this. For example, I'm not concerned with accessing the photos of anyone who's under 18 - because I was raised in the church to only do things that are right. But let's say I knew of a broad in her 20s with ridonkulously impressive cans, whose profile is set to private probably because she's tired of people staring at them. Would it be illegal for me to access those pictures anyway?

*waits patiently*