Social Media Evil: Lori Drew and the Dark Side of MySpace

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The U.S. government charged a mother who allegedly used MySpace in a deadly hoax that drove her daughter's 13-year-old classmate (pictured here) to suicide with conspiracy.

Missouri resident Lori Drew, after her daughter's schoolgirl fights with neighbor Megan Meier, 13, created a fake MySpace account to pose as a boy and flirt with Meier. When Drew began using her online identity to taunt Meier, the girl hanged herself.

The boy Megan had been corresponding with on MySpace unexpectedly began calling her a fat slut. He wrote "the world would be a better place without you." It turns out he was a hoax created by the mother of a former friend.

Drew was indicted today for conspiracy and accessing protected computers without authorization to inflict emotional distress. She faces 20 years in prison, the maximum penalty.

"Any adult who uses the internet or a social gathering website to bully or harass another person, particularly a young teenage girl, needs to realize that their actions can have serious consequences," Los Angeles federal prosecutor Thomas O'Brien, who brought the charges, said in a statement.

The case was filed in California, where MySpace is headquartered.

The suit goes a long way toward establishing and enforcing the boundaries of acceptable and illegal behavior on the Internet in general and social media sites in specific.

About the author

Kevin Heisler, formerly the executive editor of Search Engine Watch, is a search and advertising industry veteran. His former roles include VP, strategic accounts for integrated digital marketing firm 360i; director of business development for Didit Search Marketing; and search industry analyst at Jupiter Research.

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