p2pnet news | P2P:- Tina Meier, the mother of 13-year-old Megan Meier, who killed herself after being bullied online by a fake MySpace user, says she’s quit her job as a real estate agent to dedicate herself to the Megan Meier Foundation.
“Megan is still my daughter, no matter what, and I am going out there and fighting for her still because she is still my daughter,” the Associated Press quotes her as saying.
In December, 2007, a blog went online purporting to have been written by 49-year-old Lori Drew, said p2pnet recently.
It began, “My daughter had nothing to do with this. Everyone needs to leave her alone. None of you can possibly know her involvement, and none of you can possibly know what she’s gone through. She’s just a kid. She doesn’t deserve these brutal verbal attacks. Please stop.”
Drew has now been indicted for allegedly pretending to be Josh Evans, the phony MySpace member, in a hoax which led to the death of 13-year-old Megan Meier.
‘It seems I could face prosecution ……’
Will this lead to a wave of cases against people who have more than one account?
“It seems I could face prosecution for the wide range of user accounts I’ve created on MySpace, Facebook, Googlemail, Flickr and Bebo to support the various projects I’m involved with,” wrote UK journalist Bill Thompson, going on:
“The concern arises because prosecutors in California have just charged 47 year old Lori Drew under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for creating a fictitious MySpace account, something which many of us have done in the past and which I do all the time when projects I’m working on require a MySpace profile.”
If the case against Drew is proved, she deserves complete condemnation for bullying a young and vulnerable girl, “and I can’t imagine anyone would defend this behaviour or argue that a right to anonymity or pseudonymity extends to adults who abuse young people in this way,” says Thompson, continuing >>>
But the prosecution raises wider issues that should concern any computer user, especially those who neither read nor take much notice of the terms and conditions of the sites and services they visit, since it opens up the possibility that acts which we thought were insignificant could be used against us in unexpected ways.
As always, we need to be careful about jumping to the conclusion that this is the death of the web as we know it, that every social network site will start prosecuting its users or that we are all under risk of investigation.
All we have is an indictment, which may be thrown out by the court, claiming that an offence has been committed. The Computer Fraud and Misuse Act is being used because the false identity was used to do something much more serious, and the legal argument is that it can form the basis of a prosecution because it constitutes a ‘tortious act’, but this has yet to be accepted by a judge.
Even if it went all the way through to successful prosecution it doesn’t mean that MySpace could throw recalcitrant users in gaol for signing up with false names. And in most cases like that of Lori Drew there would be another law under which to prosecute anyone who used their online identity for something dodgy.
And yet it is a worrying development, because it creates a degree of uncertainty and may, because of that, have a chilling effect on what we do online. I’ve created new profiles and identities with wild abandon, secure in the knowledge that if Facebook or Bebo or whoever didn’t like what I was doing the most they could do was close my account and perhaps try to stop me opening a new one.
Meanwhile, Megan’s mother, seen in the pic with her husband, Ron, shortly after the tragedy occurred, says she wants her foundation to educate and encourage positive changes to prevent bullying and cyberbullying, says AP, adding:
“Meier and the volunteers are working to improve laws. They speak at schools and to parent groups. They hope to begin offering scholarships to children who help other children in some way.”
She’s also working with http://www.stopcyberbullying.org and is encouraging people to take the Megan Pledge, “an effort asking Internet users to stop bullying,” says the story, adding:
“Talking about Megan’s experience to middle and high school students is something Meier said she feels she needs to do. She tells them Megan was a real girl, with real dreams, and talks to them about how taunting other children can have consequences.”
“I’m going to try and do the best I can do to, hopefully, know that no other family goes through this,” she says in the story.
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Associated Press – Mom in Web bullying case turns grief into activism, May 30, 2008
p2pnet – Drew charged in Megan Meier MySpace suicide, May 16, 2008
user accounts – Censoring ourselves online ‘just in case’, May 24, 2008
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