I wrote in a post a few weeks back about a teenaged girl named Megan Meier who committed suicide in October of 2006 after falling in love with a boy on MySpace who ultimately rejected her via a MySpace post. The story told how it was later revealed that the boy she was in love with was not actually a boy after all; it was the angry mother of one of Megan's spurned classmates, who lived right down the street.
The story is an interesting one; I pointed out in my prior post that it's a perfect example of the real danger associated with MySpace; users are lulled into a virtual world. Once there, MySpacers tend to glean their entire self-worth from that virtual world, even, at times, to the exclusion of REAL relationships with REAL people.
That, again, dear readers, is the real problem with MySpace.
But that's not the point of this post. Faithful (I hope) reader April sent me a link a few days ago to this video she tracked down on a web. It's a news bit that hints that Lori Drew (the mother who posed as the teenaged boy) might be facing criminal charges for her part in the whole saga.
Missouri officials (the parties all lived in Missouri) had previously opted not to charge Ms. Drew, in that, while they found her actions deplorable, they could find no law that she'd broken. But recently, a US attorney in Los Angeles CA indicated that he would be taking the case before the grand jury in Los Angeles, requesting an indictment.
The US attorney's office in Los Angeles has jurisdiction, strangely enough, because MySpace is based out of Beverly Hills.
I agree--Ms. Drew's actions were horrible; she's a low form of humanity. But where did she break a law? Perhaps we can classify this as some sort of twisted cyber-terrorism, and toss her into Guantanamo? Or maybe a charge of involuntary manslaughter (that's a stretch; she didn't kill the girl)? I can't see it.
According to the US attorney's office, if they can find nothing else to charge her with, they'll charge her with fraud, in that she impersonated an individual she was not (and she set up a phony profile via MySpace). It's a stretch, but I guess it's an argument you can make. But then, where do you draw the line? What about the 16 year-olds that say they're 18 on their profile? Or the married women who say they're single? Or the male's who say they're females, looking for "close friends"? You see? It's a broad, grey line, and if the only time we're big enough to say it's been crossed is when someone dies, then is there really any point?
And, if you think about it, at the end of the day, if we start prosecuting people for falsely representing themselves on these sites, all we're really doing is pointing our finger at MySpace; "why can't they regulate their users, and ensure they only put the truth on their site?"
Frankly, it's not MySpace's job to regulate whom you communicate with; it's YOUR job.
But then, that's neither here nor there either. I'm just torn about this whole fiasco. Does Lori Drew deserve jail time? My heart and stomach want to scream "YES!" so lound, nothing else can be heard. But my mind says that, as deplorable as this was, the girl still committed suicide, and nobody else can really take responsibility.
Your thoughts? And hop over and vote on my poll.