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MyLine:Cover Story

YFly aims to be a kinder, gentler MySpace

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Date published: 2/21/2006



In the midst of controversy surrounding online networking sites, the most notable being MySpace, a new site has been created that hopes to meet the challenges facing the ever-growing work of Web networking.

YFly.com is a new and innovative site exclusively for teens ages 13 to 18. Created by entrepreneurs Drew Levin and Daniel Perkins (both 22) and singer-actor Nick Lachey, this site provides teens with a new way to communicate while offering safety advice to its users.

"More attention is paid to being responsible," co-founder Levin said in a phone interview. "Kids think that only their friends see what they put online--but in reality, it's for the whole world to see."

YFly tries to arm its users with the knowledge they need to be safe online. The creators teamed up with safety expert Perry Aftab, executive director of wiredsafety.org, to attempt to provide a smarter, safer alternative to similar sites.

One of the most noticeable safety features you encounter when setting up an account are the "Don't Be Stupid" buttons posted to assist teen users with what information they should put online, and what they should leave out.

This feature warns teens of the thin line between self-expression and making themselves targets for Internet predators.

"You can't completely eliminate predators," Levin said. "That's unrealistic. What you can do is give the teens the control to decide who reads their profiles."

His advice:

"If you don't want your parents, teachers or Internet predators to read it, do not put it online."

YFly's major safety features help it achieve a secure environment for teens online, and innovative options could also help make it stand out from other sites.

YFly is the first networking site to offer a link to cell phones. With a special text-messaging center, YFly has made it possible to create a text-message group--made up of a collection of friends--that you can send all the same text messages to, and get charged for one.

The site's founders are excited about this feature. Levin wants to encourage users to take "full advantage" of our site, and especially the text-messaging component.

"The whole point is to communicate," he said.

YFly's user-friendly attributes could help to make it a success, as well.

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