All is not well in cyberspace.
The suicide of Megan Meier as a result of cyberbullying highlights that cyberspace can be as dangerous and cruel a place as the real world. In fact, it can be even more insidious as you really don’t know who you are dealing with.
We’ve all talked about how one can disguise and masquerade as someone else on the Internet. You can choose to be 5 or 50, male or female, and try out different personas online. We all know about online fraud and the stealing of identities.
This time, it’s the creating of a fake online identity that has led to disastrous consequences.
And while we think that MySpace and Facebook as the stuff and playgrounds of teens, it was 49 year-old Lori Drew, mother of a teenage girl Megan had a falling-out with, who created a fake MySpace account under the name ‘Josh Evans’ to lure, tease and then taunt Megan to her death. Whatever happened to talking to the girl or her parents? In a bid to take revenge on Megan for not being friends with her daughter, Lori Drew worked out an elaborate scheme to hurt Megan.
The case has drawn controversy. There are numerous blog entries on it, and Youtube videos, and there’s even a wikipedia page devoted to it:
A federal grand jury indicted Lori Drew on May 15, 2008, on three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress, and one count of criminal conspiracy. A penalty of up to five years in prison corresponds to each of the four counts that the indictment carries. The case has caused several jurisdictions to consider legislation prohibiting harassment over the internet.
This case certainly highlights the need for better legislation regarding the use and misuse of cyberspace, as well as the need for education on how to handle cyberbullying and online pressure as well, as after all, online actions do effect real-life consequences.