MySpace Suicide Verdict is out

Some months ago, I blogged about MySpace Suicide victim Megan Meier who was driven to kill herself after she was cyber-bullied.

Well, the cyber-bully turned out to the the mother of a friend she had a falling out with. Lori Drew, 49, was recently handed the verdict, in what many see as the USA’s first cyberbullying verdict.

According to the article, Drew was “cleared of felony computer-hacking charges” but was found “guilty only of three counts of gaining unauthorized access to MySpace for the purpose of obtaining information on Megan Meier — misdemeanors that potentially carry up to a year in prison, but most likely will result in no time in custody.” 

This verdict is no doubt controversial, with many calling for tougher penalties. 

Somehow, the verdict does seem like a slap on the wrist. With cyberbullying on the rise, more needs to be done to curb it, and while the law may not be the only way, it is one key way that many are looking to for some guidance on how to handle it


MySpace Suicide: Megan Meier

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.