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posted 5/15/2008 5:18:26 PM |
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tagged: internet

Woman indicted in Missouri MySpace suicide case

By LINDA DEUTSCH – 1 hour ago 5.15.08

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted a Missouri woman for her alleged role in perpetrating a hoax on the online social network MySpace against a 13-year-old neighbor who committed suicide.

Lori Drew of suburban St. Louis allegedly helped create a false-identity MySpace account to contact Megan Meier, who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. Josh didn't exist.

Megan hanged herself at home in October 2006 after receiving cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her.

Salvador Hernandez, assistant agent in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, called the case heart-rending.

"The Internet is a world unto itself. People must know how far they can go before they must stop. They exploited a young girl's weaknesses," Hernandez said. "Whether the defendant could have foreseen the results, she's responsible for her actions."

Drew was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl.

Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Megan.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said this was the first time the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used in a social-networking case. It has been used in the past to address hacking.

"This was a tragedy that did not have to happen," O'Brien said.

Both the girl and MySpace are named as victims in the case, he said.

MySpace is a subsidiary of Beverly Hills-based Fox Interactive Media Inc., which is owned by News Corp. The indictment noted that MySpace computer servers are located in Los Angeles County.

Due to juvenile privacy rules, the U.S. attorney's office said, the indictment refers to the girl as M.T.M.

FBI agents in St. Louis and Los Angeles investigated the case, Hernandez said.

Each of the four counts carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.

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May 15 @ 5:47PM  
I remember reading about this when it first hit the news headlines, but I had no idea this occurred in Missouri. It's a tragedy. But people like Lori Drew are here everyday, doing things like this to innocent people.

3 years ago I was stalked by a group of cyberbullies. I'll never forget it. Like Lori, these nameless strangers went out of their way to find out everything they could under false pretenses and profiles. Unfortunately the worse that could be done to the bullies, was, they were permanently and immediately banned from the site along with all the personal information they posted. The best I could do was go completely incognito.


May 15 @ 8:17PM  
One smartass comment denied.

May 15 @ 8:36PM  
I saw this today. Very interesting. It is also interesting in the sense that I wonder, and do not have an answer for this, how will this effect terms of service for websites. Another writer here raised the issue of false profiles etc, which is something many of us fought here for the last six months. Meanwhile some got canned, others were hurt and more still left. I suppose that is life on the internet. On the other hand it seems that there should be some responsibility with the site owners and wonder where all this leads. On the other hand they invite us to join a community and with that comes all the perils of being in society I suppose. Buyer beware.

I adamantly am opposed to those who are canned by a website not being able to return to the site. The reason??? There is no appeal process available on most sites and while the liability section of the TOS is only about 2/3 enforceable and any lawyer will tell you that no one is ever free of liability all the time, there is still no appeal or other remedy other than the legal system. We see in this case above the problem in getting a criminal charge levied. Imagine a civil case and the problems. Most cost more than they are worth so we are subject to inuendo and false charges by people who have their own agenda. it is something that will be worth watching inthe future. The judgments of users are often ill informed, I see it here all the time, and owners are not paying enough attention to the real facts. Moderators are anonymous souls who probably do their best unless they campaign for the job and are out to get many problems to operate that close minded and discriminatory policy. In my case, it is the court system. But not all have that option for a principle. Sorry to use this as a soapbox but just discussing my thoughts from today.

Anyway, very interesting development. Was going to write about it tonight but you already have...thanks.

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