Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mom indicted in deadly MySpace hoax


Megan Meier, 13, hanged herself in her bedroom after being targeted in a MySpace hoax.

"LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A Missouri mom was indicted Thursday for her alleged role in the death of a teen who killed herself over a failed Internet romance that turned out to be a hoax.

Megan Meier, 13, hanged herself in her bedroom after being targeted in a MySpace hoax.

1 of 2 A federal indictment accuses Lori Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Missouri, of using the social networking Web site MySpace.com to pose as a 16-year-old boy and feign romantic interest in the girl.

The girl, Megan Meier, committed suicide after her online love interest spurned her, according to prosecutors, telling her the world would be a better place without her.

Drew faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.

Authorities have previously said that Drew set up the account to find out what Meier, who lived in her neighborhood, was saying about her daughter."
I'm glad to see this woman indicted and I hope she is convicted and does time.

As the father of a 14 year old daughter, the idea that some vindictive mother down the block could be malevolently manipulating my daughter's emotions online without facing any consequences for her actions pisses me off to the extreme.

I hope it serves as a shot across the bow to those who think that they can use anonymous or pseudonymous Internet postings as some sort of protected speech that allows them to intentionally inflict harm, hatred, libel, slander and humiliation on others with no consequences.

What you post on the Internet can have a very real impact in the real world.

Words matter.

If you post something online that results in real-world harm to someone else, you should be held accountable.

I think this case will set some welcome (and much needed) legal precedents.

7 comments:

Grouchy said...

Yes its way past time that the law caught up with technology. But if we look past the 'means' and consider the 'why' I am more concerned about a society that would seem to be encouraging extreme measures. What would make a grown woman do such a thing?

travel said...

"I hope it serves as a shot across the bow to those who think that they can use anonymous or pseudonymous Internet postings as some sort of protected speech that allows them to intentionally inflict harm, hatred, libel, slander and humiliation on others with no consequences."

I agree with you, XO, in the case of this young girl. It was a very sad story. If I was on the jury, I would have indicted her too. But, it's an indictment, not a conviction and I believe the issue of free speech, censorship, etc. and the internet will definitely come into play during the trial and could go on to higher courts.
There are hundreds of thousands of instances of libel, hatred, and harm directed at others on the internet and I don't see how, in this country, "harm" can be separated from free speech.

meesha.v said...

this case will and should be thrown out of court. if her girl's dad wants to to some vigilante justice I am all for that, but you can't legislate everything, I am a big believer in "slippery slope"

emawkc said...

Be careful what you wish for XO. The last thing we should be considering is giving (more) power to the government to police what gets written online.

Faith said...

Wait a minute. It wasn't the mother that was posting. It was her daughter. Who is the same age as the girl who killed herself, was a good friend of hers throughout elementary school, got to junior high and made NEW friends that didn't like Megan, and so they started making collective fun of her.

From what I remember of this story, Megan dropped out of school thanks to what happened. her ex-friend THEN took it upon herself to create this alter-ego of the 16 year old boy in order to harass her old buddy from the interwebs, since she couldn't do it at school any more.

Kids can be cruel, no doubt about that. I grew up fat and ugly in the mountains of CA, and felt the wrath of youth on a regular basis. But I also had friends. And a mother that made me feel like I was in charge of my own destiny, dammit.

I thought this mother was on trial because of her feigned ignorance throughout the ordeal. She actually knew it was happening, and even contributed to some of the notes/posts sent to Megan.

But it was her daughter that created and posed as the fake boyfriend.

And I think she deserves to have the book thrown at her. Any parent that teaches their kid that it's ok to behave like that in this world should be considered a child abuser. Not only for what she did to Megan, but for the back asswards way she's raising her fucking kid.

travel said...

Faith...huh? The daughter conceived all this? Hadn't read that before. I agree vicious kid and sick mother, and believe me I think that's awful, but still, where does a court draw a line on what's done on the internet.

As you probably know, I'm a conservative but I don't want to live in a society of internet police and courts. We've already stepped off the ledge with so-called hate crimes as far as I'm concerned.

Xavier Onassis said...

faith & travel - Huh uh. It wasn't her peer. The following is from the AFP story here:

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5irPwBRn2Os65-DzWVignc_PKNK2w

"Drew was among several adults who pretended to be a 16-year-old boy named "Josh" on MySpace, according to prosecutors. The girl met "Josh" in the online community after she opened her MySpace account in 2006.

"Within days Josh was telling her she was sexy," O'Brien said. "The flirting continued for three weeks."

Josh broke off the virtual relationship and sent the girl a message saying the world would be better off without her, according to prosecutors. Within an hour of receiving the message the girl hanged herself in her bedroom.

Drew and "co-conspirators" used her home computer to chat with the girl on MySpace and gleaned from online exchanges to "torment, harass, humiliate and embarrass" the girl, according to the indictment. ...Drew deleted the "Josh" profile from MySpace after getting word that the girl, a neighbor, hanged herself, according to prosecutors."

travel - "...where does a court draw a line on what's done on the internet."

I think that an adult, disguising themselves as a teenage love interest and then willfully and maliciously driving a 13 year old girl to kill herself, then trying to hide the evidence by deleting the "Josh" profile as soon as she heard the girl was dead clearly oversteps the bounds of Free Speech.

If they can arrest and convict grown men for soliciting sex online from a police officer masquerading as an underage girl, they sure as fuck ought to be able to convict this bitch of something akin to involuntary manslaughter at the very least.