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Megan Meier's neighbor Ms. Drew was found guilty of misdemeanor charges surrounding her allegedly spurring Meier to kill herself, but found not guilty of three more serious felony charges.  (Source: Myspace)
Family and friends search for closure in final verdict

The case of Lori Drew and her role in the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier was a controversial one.  Meier was a teenager who suffered from bouts of depression, but was generally characterized and good-natured and outgoing.  When she committed suicide after an argument with her mother, it seemed like nothing more than a tragic case of teenage mental illness gone awry. 

However, then it came out that the argument with her mother was over cruel comments from a boy online who allegedly initially romanced her on MySpace and then turned hostile, eventually dropping a hint that the world might be a better place if she left it.  The only thing out of the ordinary -- the teenage boy, wasn't really a teenage boy; it was neighbor Lori Drew who wanted to allegedly "get Meier back" for supposed mean behavior towards her daughter.

When this came to light, federal authorities sidestepped local authorities, which would likely have delivered no charges.  They charged Ms. Drew with a variety of misdemeanors as well as four felony counts.

The trial was long and heated, with Ms. Drew's attorney arguing that Meier's suicide was less the result of MySpace, and more the result of a history of mental illness and that Ms. Drew could not be held responsible for not reading MySpace’s EULA, because "no one" does.  Meanwhile, prosecutors painted Ms. Drew as a mean-spirited woman who tormented young Meier and drove her to her unfortunate end.

In the end the jury found Ms. Drew guilty of three misdemeanor charges, while clearing her of three of the felony charges and reaching a deadlock in a fourth felony charge.  The result is that Ms. Drew will be sentenced to anything from probation to three years behind bars, avoiding felony sentencing which could have put her in prison for 20 years.

The reason the jury found her not guilty on the felony counts was due to lack of proof that Ms. Drew had typed the MySpace messages that drove Meier apparently to suicide.  The messages may also have been typed by Ms. Drew's employee or daughter, both of which were privy to Ms. Drew's scheme.

Tina Meier, Megan's mother says that despite the mixed nature of the verdict, that it's a victory.  She states, "This is about justice.  It's justice not only for Megan but it's justice for everybody who has had to go through this with the computer and being harassed."

MySpace Chief Security Officer Hemanshu Nigam also praised the decision, stating, "MySpace respects the jury's decision and will continue to work with industry experts to raise awareness of cyber-bullying and the harm it can potentially cause."

The greatest impact of the case may be to spur government officials to enact new cyberbullying laws, which could allow criminal charges for those who goad youth into suicide.  Meier's case is not alone in this respect -- recently a teenager was encouraged by hundreds of onlookers in a video chat room to take pills and kill himself, which he did, dying hours later as the cameras rolled.

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Internet community fails again
By FUhypocrites on 12/2/2008 2:21:13 PM , Rating: 0
Harassment is a crime, internet monkeys. Whether it is through electronics or in person matters not, it's still the same damn thing.

People get charged with negligent homicide in pledge deaths if they encourage dangerous hazing, or if they drive poorly and accidentally kill someone. I see this case as more about the consequences of actions than anything else. Since the intent here was malicious, that only makes it more clear cut.

That adult and others at her behest purposefully goaded that girl. Whether they wanted her to die or not is irrelevant. If I send a joke death threat by email to some people and they take it seriously do I get off the hook by saying, "Hey, it was just a joke. And it was over the internets so I shouldn't have to be held accountable 'cause I'm anonymous, yo, word to your brotha'?" Of course not. I'd have to go to court for making a threat if charges were pressed, and my actions would have to be evaluated. The same thing applies in this case. That crazy adult was brought in to have her actions evaluated.

All the people arguing that the case should not have gone to court are woefully mistaken. One of the main reasons courts exist is to deal with problems between people.

The real problem a lot of people have with this case is that it makes fools culpable for what they do on the internet, and that scares people because it hasn't been that way for a long time. Bullying can be criminal, and so this case had every reason to go to court. Some tagger below wrote "our society is retarded." You are correct, sir, but that "retarded" portion only applies to people like you.

It can be argued that pixels can cause someone to commit suicide. Those "pixels" as you so idiotically put it represent actions, and actions can have unintended results, fool, no matter how people like you try to trivialize it.

There are many kids on many different forms of drugs. If the girl had killed herself after reading an e-mail about enlarging her dick, I'd buy your "brain chemistry altered by drugs" theory. But since she killed herself after what must have been a painful and proven malicious hoax over quite some time, I'm inclined to think that medication is far less the culprit than some stupid American bitches who got away with a slap on the wrist.

For all those who are thinking, "Wow, this poster is a jerk," that's fine. Up yours. There's a reason I took such a tone and targeted the people I did. It's called irony. Being a jerk online is exactly at the heart of this matter being debated. If bullying people online is no big deal, then don't get uppity with me, monkeys. What goes around comes around. At least I'm not the one trivializing the events and actions that lead to a person's death.

RE: Internet community fails again
By blissyu2 on 12/3/2008 1:35:32 AM , Rating: 2
Kudos to you with those great comments.

Indeed, as I said in my comment above, the result (the suicide) shouldn't be the major issue, although it highlights just how bad this kind of behaviour is. Whilst some people do just use the internet as fun and games (and these are often the same people who are causing these kinds of problems), a lot of people take it quite seriously, talking to family, classmates, and making real life friends as much as they can. Why should they be prevented from doing this because someone decides to try to ruin their lives?

The internet should not be immune to normal laws. We should not need additional laws for such cases as cyber-bullying, cyber-harassment, cyber-stalking, cyber-smear campaigns or any other kind of deliberate attempts to cause serious damage to an individual, just because it is done on the internet.

If this crime had happened with letters, as only existed in the 19th century, the people responsible would have gone to jail.

Where exactly is the difference between a 19th century mother writing to a girl by pen and pretending to be a boy, and what this girl did here?

These aren't new laws. These are old laws finally being prosecuted properly, in spite of the internet's many loopholes.

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