Deadly hoax - how should we patrol and police MySpace and similar sites?

MSNBC's Today Show is reporting on a tragic story of a 13 year old girl who committed suicide following a hoax romance on MySpace.

After falling out with her friend, 13 year old Megan Meier was lured by a hoax MySpace posting pretending to be from a young boy who had recently moved to her neighbourhood in Missouri. Little did she know that the real person behind the MySpace postings was the mother of the friend she had fallen out with. This warped use of one of the internet's leading social spaces ultimately led to a virtual relationship that broke down and the false online identity was used to shower the victim with abuse, abuse that resulted in a vulnerable teenager taking her own life.

We are all too aware of the dangers posed by those misusing the freedom to exchange views, contact others and interact in the onlne environment but what can be done about them? There are various boxes to click on sites that ask users to consent to 'terms of use' and to basically behave themselves but such rules don't envisage or extend to the harm that can be done. While regulations allow an internet provider or website to take down a posting or ban a user they don't extend to analysing, predicting or being able to do anything about the potential psychological damage that can be done by those with sick minds who prey on vulnerable online users.

This case is particularly disturbing because of the warped way in which an adult decided to play this emotional mind game on the friend, or former friend of her daughter. The parents of Megan Meier want justice but the legal process is not rushing to offer them a solution. The online hoax was not of itself criminal - yet the result was deadly.

Read more HERE

What do you think? should there be more laws to police what gets posted online? Should there be tougher penalties for those who use online sites to bully, harass and ultimately, as in this case, drive people to suicide?
Post your comments below or mail mediabeak your views: mediabeak@gmail.com

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