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January 10, 2008

Defrauding MySpace

Evidently the term "defrauding MySpace" is the term the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles is considering using to file a suit against Lori Drew in the Megan Meier suicide case......

"13-year old Megan Meier committed suicide after receiving cruel messages on her MySpace page, allegedly written by Lori Drew. Prosecutors believe they have jurisdiction because the popular internet website is based out of Beverly Hills."

They might have a case and here's why:

1. MySpace makes it very clear in their Terms & Conditions page that all registration information must be truthful and accurate.
2. MySpace makes it very clear in their Terms & Conditions page that profiles may not include lewd, violent or harassing subject matter.
3. MySpace makes it very clear in their Terms & Conditions page that harassment is strictly prohibited and legal action will be taken if violated.

MySpace does make it clear that while they set these rules for protection, they recognize that some rules get broken. Like the one that says, you must be 14 years of age to create an account. Oops! That means Megan Meier was fraudulent in her use of MySpace too. This got me thinking.

How many fraudulent accounts are on MySpace and other social networking sites? How many people actually read the terms and conditions of these online conversational platforms?  It's scary to think that we really can't know who's for real and who's not. And the most important question of all is, where does that leave lawmakers in determining internet harassment laws and cyber-bullying consequences?

I'll tell you where it leaves me, in the driver's seat when it comes to my kid's internet usage and social networking sites until they reach the "real" age of about 30.


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This will be interesting to see how this plays out in court.

The larger problem is that we have decided to make anonymity an integral part of the Internet medium.

When you think about it, all the problems related to this medium -- spam, fraud, harassment, trolling -- are all because people aren't required to use their real identity when they are online.

Very true. Each site does require accurate information. My question is... who's checking??

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