Lori Drew guilty in MySpace bully trial
Suicide sparked by online abuse
The woman accused of using MySpace to bully a vulnerable teenage girl who subsequently killed herself has been found guilty of three charges.
The case was heard in Los Angeles because that is where the MySpace servers are.
Lori Drew created a fake MySpace profile in the name of Josh Evans. She used the persona to flirt with a thirteen year old girl called Megan Meier, who her daughter had previously fallen out with.
After weeks of flirting Drew then sent her message which said: "You’re a shitty person, and the world would be a better place without you in it." Hours later Meier hung herself in her bedroom.
Local police in Missouri would not charge Drew and the LA prosecutor has been accused of grandstanding. The charges were downgraded from felonies to misdemeanors - three counts of accessing a computer without authorization - but Drew could still face jail, the New York Times reports.
The case has split legal observers with some welcoming extension of the use of the Computer Fraud Act to social networking sites. But Matthew L Levine, a defense lawyer in New York, told the NYT: “As a result of the prosecutor’s highly aggressive, if not unlawful, legal theory, it is now a crime to ‘obtain information’ from a website in violation of its terms of service. This cannot be what Congress meant when it enacted the law, but now you have it.” MySpace T&Cs oblige users to be truthful in information they post.
Tina Meier welcomed the verdict and said she hoped Drew got a prison sentence. ®
Good old British journalism...
El Reg's headline is "Lori Drew guilty in MySpace bully trial" while the BBC lead with "Woman cleared of MySpace bullying". What a confusing start to my day.
You and a couple of others have missed a vital point, the account wasn't set up to purely abuse her, it was set up to gain her trust, lead her down the garden path, THEN abuse her. So she couldn't simply filter it out from the get go. From what little we know, it appears it was done in such a way to ensure it would have as big an impact on her as possible. Obviously they got a bigger impact than they expected.
Admittedly, I'm in that group that is uncomfortable with the laws they've bent to get some justice (I've often registered on sites with bogus info where I want anonymity / no spam for what I feel are valid reasons). I would far rather, as you and others have suggested, they gone after her on the more fitting grooming charges, which might have also have had the effect of underling to her and her local community the gravity of what took place.
Exactly how fragile ARE kids these days, anyway?
I agree that Lori Drew deserves some kind of slow painful humiliation for picking on a kid (doesn't she have adult stuff to do like grocery shop or laundry or hold a job?) and think the suggestion of paedo charges (per post by AC at 20081127 17:03 "So... ") would be worth a shot (if posing as a teenage boy in order to flirt with and manipulate hetero teenage girls is all it takes to earn that accusation, what's the hold up? Let's do it!), but I am also concerned that the charges ("accessing a computer without authorization", wtf? The perp is an 1D10T, not a h4xx0r) stretch the intent of the law to the breaking point and much silliness/ stupidity will ensue.
At the risk of being pilloried next to AC above (20081127 19:36 "What next?"), if the kid in this case was getting abuse on her MySpace page, isn't there some kind of "blacklist" feature she could have used to shut up the meanies if she wasn't up to dishing it back at them? Or, failing that, couldn't she have just avoided MySpace altogether, just as one does not return to a restaurant with shit food and worse service?