Feds Indict Adult In MySpace Suicide

  • May 16, 2008
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have obtained an indictment against Lori Drew, a Missouri woman who allegedly helped create a MySpace account that was used to harass a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide. Drew was charged with conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization, on the theory that she allegedly created an account under a false name and violated MySpace's terms of service, which prohibit users from harassing others.

Thirteen-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide in October 2006, after she received a message that the world would be a better place without her, sent by a MySpace user she believed was a teen boy named "Josh Evans." Megan Meier's parents said the message was actually sent via a MySpace profile that Drew helped create. Drew now denies that she helped set up the profile or knew of the messages before the teen died.

Prosecutors in Missouri contemplated bringing charges, but reportedly decided there were no grounds to bring a case under state law.

When news first broke that the federal authorities were investigating Drew, digital rights advocates said that charging a user with computer fraud based on using a fake name to create a profile raises First Amendment concerns. Courts have held that people generally have a right to use pseudonyms or speak anonymously.

--Wendy Davis

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