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Lori Drew charged over MySpace suicide and one reason MySpace sucks.

MySpace’s existence is proof enough that it sucks.

A Los Angeles federal grand jury has indicted a woman for her alleged role in a MySpace online hoax played on a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide.

Lori Drew of St Louis, Missouri was indicted on Thursday on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorisation to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.

Each of the four counts carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.

Drew allegedly helped create a fake MySpace account to contact neighbour Megan Meier who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans.

At the time of the incident, the Drews and the Meiers lived four doors apart in Waterford Crystal Drive, in the town of Dardenne Prairie. The Drew’s teenage daughter and Megan were friends.

The online relationship between “Josh” and Megan bloomed for several weeks before the tone suddenly changed.

On October 15, 2006, Josh sent Megan a message saying, ‘I don’t want to be friends with you anymore because you’re not nice to your friends’.

That post triggered a flood of hate posts from other users.

“All of Josh’s friends and all of Megan’s friends were calling Megan a whore, a fat ass. Calling her all kinds of god awful names,” Megan’s mother,Tina, told the ABC network in an interview last year.

Meier hanged herself on the evening of October 16, 2006 after receiving cruel messages, including the last message sent from Josh which read: “the world would be a better place without you, and have a s**t rest of your life.”

After that, Josh’s profile vanished from MySpace.

It wasn’t until several weeks after Megan’s death that the Meiers discovered Drew’s involvement in the fake MySpace profile.

Drew, who was 48 at the time of the incident, has denied creating the account and sending messages to Megan.

She claimed through her lawyers that she did not instigate the Josh Evans profile, nor did she use the fake profile to communicate with Megan. While she knew about the ruse, the lawyer said, she was apparently unaware that the Josh profile had been used to attack her neighbour’s daughter.

She claims the profile was the work of her teenage daughter and a teenage employee called Ashley Grills.

Last month, Grills, now 19, went on national TV saying that while she was responsible for setting up the fake Josh profile, Lori Drew and her daughter were also involved in the cruel hoax.

Grills also said she wrote the message to Megan about the world being a better place without her. The message was supposed to end the online relationship with “Josh” because Grills felt the joke had gone too far.

“I was trying to get her angry so she would leave him alone and I could get rid of the whole MySpace,” Grills said.

Authorities in Missouri investigated Megan’s death but failed to charge Drew after they were unable to find a law that she had broken.

The charges being laid by federal prosecutors allege that Drew defrauded MySpace by helping set up a bogus profile,

US Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien said this was the first time the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used in a social-networking case. It has been used in the past to address hacking.

“This was a tragedy that did not have to happen,” O’Brien said.

Both the girl and MySpace are named as victims in the case, he said.

Drew will be arraigned in St. Louis and then moved to Los Angeles for trial.

The indictment says MySpace members agree to abide by terms of service that include, among other things, not promoting information they know to be false or misleading; soliciting personal information from anyone under age 18 and not using information gathered from the Web site to “harass, abuse or harm other people.”

Drew and others who were not named conspired to violate the service terms from about September 2006 to mid-October that year, according to the indictment. It alleges they registered as a MySpace member under a phony name and used the account to obtain information on the girl.

Drew and her coconspirators “used the information obtained over the MySpace computer system to torment, harass, humiliate, and embarrass the juvenile MySpace member,” the indictment charged.

After the girl killed herself, Drew and the others deleted the information for the account, the indictment said.


Posted by SPN on 05/19 at 10:39 AM in BloggingJustice / Injustice

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