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Social networking sites provide a virtual space where individuals can communicate with friends and meet new people. While intended for these purposes, these sites also can be harmful by making individuals vulnerable to cyber-bullying. In a virtual world, individuals can easily hide their true identities. An adult woman can pose as an adolescent boy in order to bully an adolescent girl. This was the case in the Megan Meier incident. In October 2006, Megan was a victim of cyber-bullying that occurred through a social networking site. The offender, Lori Drew, was the mother of Megan’s female friend. She cyber-bullied Megan by posing as an adolescent boy, targeting Megan’s low self-esteem, ultimately resulting in Megan committing suicide.
At the time this incident occurred, there was no legislation related to cyber-bullying. Lori Drew was charged with conspiracy and unauthorized access of a computer for violating the social networking site’s Terms of Service. Drew was convicted of three misdemeanor violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. She faced up to 3 years in prison and a $300,000 fine. Drew, however, never served jail time nor paid any fine. The conviction was overturned by U.S. District Judge George Wu in July 2009.
For this Discussion, review the Megan Meier case and current legislation on cyber-bullying outlined in “Guarding Against a Radical Redefinition of Liability for Internet Misrepresentation: The United States v. Drew Prosecution and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.” Consider how the outcome for the offender in the case might be different if the crime was to occur today.
Post by Day 4 an explanation of how the outcome might be different for the offender in the Megan Meier case if the offense happened today. Support your response with references to current cyber-bullying legislation and/or rulings on current cyber-bullying cases.
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