Lori Drew Convicted of Lesser Charges in MySpace Hoax Leading to Teen Suicide

The Missouri mother on trial in the landmark cyberbullying case that originated from the MySpace-related suicide of Megan Meier has been found guilty of three misdemeanor violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

I began writing about the tragic suicide of Megan Meier just under a year ago. The post questioned the widely reported story arc, which was, roughly, “Internet + stupid evil neighbor = dead teen.” The problem with this formula is that it ignores the serious psychiatric and family issues in Megan Meier’s life, by mistakenly framing technology as a root cause of the tragedy. This sad story has inspired questionable local laws. Mrs. Drew’s vilification and prosecution ironically made MySpace a victim rather than a potentially negligent actor in this situation.

Eric Goldman starts the legal analysis by questioning how this case was managed. He also digs into testimony suggesting that Lori Drew many have only had a peripheral role in the hoax.

Since most terms of use are overly broad, and largely ignored by end users, I’ve described how this ruling could be the basis for selective prosecution of nearly any user of online services. The story of Megan Meier is a tragedy. The witch hunt that followed was at best a distraction from confronting the need for more robust mental health services for people diagnosed with depression, as Megan Meier was.

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