seem like rapist types,” a friend said, recapping a night
out with new friends we had first met on the Internet. Her
concern was well grounded. The news has been full, the past
few years, of stories about negative experiences people have
had with “friends” met on the Internet.
In 2006, Mathew Cargill, 29, posed as a 16-year-old boy to
arrange a meeting with a 15-year-old girl through the popular
networking Web site, MySpace. It
was the third arrest of that sort in one month that year in Hawai‘i.
But not everyone on the Internet is a predator. In fact, you can meet decent
people through these channels and real friendship can spark online just as it
can from meeting someone in person.
Our date actually came about because, while celebrating a friend’s birthday
at Dave & Busters, I saw someone I knew only from MySpace. I didn’t
risk saying “hi,” for fear it might not be him, but the next day,
I sent him a message and asked if he had been there that night. He replied with
a yes and said that I should have introduced myself to him. After a few more
messages, there was talk of meeting up in person over the weekend and him promising
me that I’ll have a good time.
My friend and I met with him and his friends at a bar in Waikiki, and my MySpace
friend not only made good on his promise, but now I also have several new friendships
that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Web sites like MySpace allow us to interact with people we would probably never
meet otherwise. Still, while we can now network with new people, we should also
continue to take precautions and trust our instincts when arranging a face-to-face
“ Just gotta use your head, common sense,” said Detective Sterling
Solusod, a 22-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department. He mentions the
site that offers some Internet Safety Tips:
• Do not give personal information such as your address, telephone number,
or the name and location of your school.
• Never send pictures of yourself or any other personal material to someone
you meet online.
• When “chatting” in chat rooms, remember that not everyone
is who they say they are.
• Always keep in mind that as you move through the Internet, you leave
information about yourself. When users post to USENET.IRC chat rooms or listservers,
reveal their mailing addresses so others can contact them. Some Web sites also
collect information called “cookies,” compiled lists of information
that may include your name, address, telephone number, and possibly even your
credit card number. Ask your Internet service provider how to turn off your “cookies.”
• Be sure the meeting is in a public place.
For more information visit: hawaii.gov/ag/hicac.