A Missouri woman was convicted of three misdemeanor counts in the case of a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide after she was criticized on the Web site MySpace.com.
But a jury declined to convict Lori Drew of the more serious conspiracy charge in a landmark case testing the limits of cyberbullying.
Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Missouri, was accused of fraudulently using the site to pose as a teenage boy who feigned romantic interest in the girl, Megan Meier.
Meier committed suicide after her perceived love interest spurned her, telling her the world would be a better place without her, according to federal prosecutors.
At the time of her death, Meier's family and Drew's family lived near each other in suburban St. Louis.
Drew was convicted of three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on Meier.
U.S. District Judge George Wu declared a mistrial on a fourth count of conspiracy after a California jury failed to reach a verdict.
I'm a bit ambivalent about how I feel about this. On one hand, you have to acknowledge that Lori Drew is a gigantic twat. That almost goes without saying. The problem is that the idea that you can be arrested for a website's term of service is sort of ridiculous. Hell, I'll bet that most of us don't even read the damn ToS and probably violate them on a daily basis. It's where companies chuck all that legalese to cover their asses. It just doesn't seem right to craft a law for which everyone is guilty. You'll only end up being targeted though due to highly selective prosecution. If someone wanted to make your life difficult, this would be a good way to go about it.
I think I just figured out a good analogy. It's like arresting Hitler on the basis of violating seat belt laws. The entire idea of seat belt laws might be wrong but since you're targeting Hitler, who's going to speak up against it? Just trying to take a principled stand and anyone can easily turn it around to ask you why in the world you would be a Hitler-lover.