Sunday, September 21, 2008

Support Lori Drew Blog

OK. So Lori Drew is being tried for violating the terms of service at MySpace (MySpace claims that the registration agreement is a written contract!). Her violation of the terms of agreement on a social networking site somehow resulted in the death of a 13 year old girl by suicide. I started a blog in support of Lori Drew and against the crackpots. I hope to follow this story. If the judge has any sense, there will be no story to follow.

So today a 19 year old kid goes and kills himself on a video website. In this thread someone complains that the kid's suicide will hurt their sales! According to the forum that this happened on any good publicity is good publicity. Ha.

OK. But here's how I look at it. Wasn't it MySpace (or Facebook?) who had a big controversy because some cops were lurking in the forums pretending to be 14 years old and some adults "hit on" them? So the site had to do all this revamping to protect the little kids.

In that case, if cops are pretending to be underage, is it not acceptable to pretend to be a predator? They are both pretending, acting a role in the dramatic mode.

And how can I know if this story about the 19 year old is true?

Anyway, the discussion is similar to the Lori Drew incident. A lot of users had encouraged this person to do the suicide and now a lot of other users want the police to come in and investigate those who did the encouraging and have them charged with some crime.

In both cases, it is the individual who is ultimately responsible for their actions.

I have opened a blog in support of Lori Drew who is the defendant in the so-called "cyberbullying" case.

The indictment alleges that Drew and her co-conspirators violated MySpace's terms of service, which require registrants to provide truthful registration information and refrain from soliciting personal information from anyone under 18 or using information obtained from MySpace services to harass or harm other people, among other terms.

If convicted on all four counts, Drew could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

I don't believe that anyone on the Internet should have the right to solicit personal information from me. I reserve my right to anonymity on the web. The privacy of Lori Drew was violated by MySpace. MySpace doesn't make law.

Dead teen's mom testifies in cyberbullying trial

This is a great testimony as to how screwed up the web "community" really is. Should any local court (and in relation to the worldwideweb, even the Supreme Court is local) make laws for this community? I say no. The reason the City of Pootown or the State of Massashitass is making these laws is because they are actual organized bodies. Where can we find that on the Internet?

This is why it is imperative to organize democratically on the web. If laws need to be made for this community, let this community make those laws.

This cyberbullying case is not a case of homicide. The trial is expected to center on the social networking site's terms of service. That's the button that you click when registering that says "I Agree"

What are the issues? What is an agreement? When people sign up for these services do they actually agree to anything? Or do they just click a button to get the account? Can there be an agreement without discussion first? If I am forced to accept the terms in order to get the service, can it be called an "agreement"?

Do the terms of service have the force of law? If I disobey the terms of service, have I broken the law? What law should govern the web? Who should have jurisdiction?

For me this touches the deeper roots of what is wrong with web "community". Where is the agreement between anyone? I don't see it. I see pre-fab agreements that come up when registering for a service but have never been approached by any other individual in the "community" to forge any real agreement. Or when they did, they refused to negotiate the agreement.

These ageements usually state all of the rights that the provider has and all of the rights that the user doesn't have. Do web services betray the public trust by imposing such agreements? I think all roads will lead us back to the issue of "private property".

It may make little difference who owns a service as private property when it comes to writing the rules. This whole system comes down to money and is therefore market driven. It's not about bringing people together. It's about making money.

What if we were to reinterpret the whole system? A platform like Google considers that it is giving me a free service by allowing me to register for a blog. But I feel that the bloggers are doing the service for Google. Blogging drives traffic to their site. So the users should have equal say in the discussion toward any terms of service. Otherwise, they run the risk of losing users.

If the web is market driven, then ultimately it is the providers that must answer to the users.

Obama's Cellphone Account Breached by Verizon Employees

Another major issue is privacy. In the case of the teen suicide, the service provider identified a user who chose to be anonymous. Do these companies have the right to violate the users privacy?

The suicide itself is irrelevant to the issues. I don't like the fact that the issues are being tied to such an emotionally charged circumstance. The implication is that one user's offline actions are the responsibility of another user's online behavior.

There seems to be gross misunderstanding about the way that people want to use the web. There is little that the law says about this but fortunately there is some historical precedence to rely upon in following these legal developments. It might be good to take a closer look at what the web is made of and how different people interpret it's possible uses.

I am going to be following the case of Lori Drew through the superior courts until the "law" is stamped out. So I'll be blogging along with others on the new Support Lori Drew blog. You are invited to stop by and drop off an opinion. Regular posters may be invited into an online civil liberties think tank that I plan on starting. You'll find plenty of links to other bloggers who have opinions about this case on the Support Lori Drew blog.

Support Lori Drew


  1. Pardon me, but, h ow exactly did myspace violate this woman's rights? I understand the need to protect your child as I have two. Sometimes you have to let them fight their own fights and work it out. This woman chose to involve herself into something that was clearly none of her business. Living vicariously through the eyes of a 13 yr old child, at the age of 49, speaks volumes. She is lonely and needs some help. While I agree Megan Meier made the decision to commit suicide, I still feel terrible for her parents. Were it to be my daughter, I don't know how to put this in a civil manner, I would be on trial for murder...I'll leave it at that.

  2. Jeri,
    I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to think carefully about how to answer you. I'll post my answer by Friday of next week. You can put that on your calendar.

  3. How exactly did MySpace violate this woman's rights?

    MySpace has no right to request personal information from any of it's users. Neither Lori nor Megan should have needed to supply personal info? MySpace is trying to use this incident as a reason to further violate the privacies of it's users. I am against strange websites soliciting personal information from the web community users.

    Let's take a look at the issues:

    "The opening argument in the Lori Drew case may hint at just how difficult it will be to keep the case focused on the actual charges of computer fraud and misuse, rather than Drew's liability for the suicide of Megan Meier."

    "Drew has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and accessing computers without authorization. She could be sentenced to as many as 20 years in prison if convicted of all counts."

    Most people want to talk about the moral issue but this is a legal case.

    There are supposedly two choices upon registration at a forum. A user can either select the "I Accept" button and receive the account or hit the "I Do Not Accept" button and not get the account. An alternative is to supply false info which is a rejection of the terms of service and receive the account access. By supplying false information the user has rejected the terms of service. Therefore, MySpace's terms of service are not legally binding. If they are binding, under what jurisdiction? Their headquarters are in Beverly Hills, California. The defendant resided in Missouri. Missouri has since passed a law against cyberbullying. But most web users don't live in Missouri.

    "Judge Wu could decide to throw out the case. Steward filed a motion to dismiss on grounds that the government failed to prove that Drew or her alleged co-conspirators knew that they were violating the terms-of-service."

    Drew did not violate the terms. She rejected them by submitting false information. She asserted her right to privacy and rejected any claim that MySpace might make to that private information.

    "MySpace has rules. A lot of them. There are nine pages of terms and conditions. The long list of prohibited content includes sexual material. And users must be at least 14."

    Since the minimum age to register an account on MySpace is 14, Megan herself breached the terms of service. Should not her mother be facing the same charges since she knowingly allowed her child to access computers without authorization?

    Megan had been doing her own shitflinging on MySpace. Megan Meirer had angered the Drews by calling Sarah a "lesbian." Since Megan also was engaged in "verbal abuse" of the defendant's child, she was either practicing her own freedom of speech or she was "cyberbully". Why are the slights that Megan aimed at others belittled? Speaking freely in all modes (expository, narrative and dramatic) is part of web culture and it's not going to change much because people can and should be able to do and say what they want online.

    "But there is much that is odd about Lori Drew. Drew, then 47, told police she felt better when she learned Megan Meier had previously considered suicide, before she hanged herself in a wardrobe of her Missouri home a year ago"

    There is nothing odd about Lori Drew. She is a normal everyday Internet user. It was a coincidence that she told someone to drop dead and they did.

    I feel sorry for Megan and her parents also but the sole responsibility lies with Megan and her family. I fail to make a connection between telling someone to "go jump in the lake" on a web forum and that person actually jumping in the lake. So suck my dick. (But please don't quote me on that)

    "The case has raised talk of legislation against Internet harassment." It's not harassment. It's speech, it's acting in the dramatic mode and it's television.

  4. We are obviously going to have to agree to disagree.
    If these women lived right down the street from each other, then, what was so wrong with calling and telling the woman to put her daughter back in check? Or better yet, walk down the block?
    I will tell you a story, not that you want to hear it, but you told me to suck your dick so you will read my ramblings. My son is 13, in the beginning of the school year he had an issue with a kid in the neighborhood. I told my kid to handle it and when he couldn't handle it anymore to let me know. It escalated on school property, he hit my kid in his neck and knocked him out. I waited for the school and the boy's parents to do something and got nothing. So, I waited for that boy to come out of that school and got right in his face, cussed him a blue streak, and filed assault charges on him. Was it the right thing to do? The assault charges, yes, otherwise no...but I got my point across and I didnt need to pretend to be 13 to do it.
    Lori Drew is NOT a normal human being. I dont think she needs to be in jail but she sure could use a psych eval. Who does that? Who gets off on the misery of a child? the pain of others? A Narcissist does. Megan Meier called the girl a slut? So what! Is it true? If not, then move on. It must hold some truth if they got so pissed off about it.
    I also don't agree with suicide. I find it to be extraordinarily selfish and noone made that decision but her. As the parents said, though, it was like they handed her a loaded gun.
    If Lori Drew had handed the girl a cigarette or a beer, she would be facing hellfire and damnation. She should at least get the same punishment, she contributed to the delinquency of a minor and was obviously very proud of it.
    Once again, I understand the need to protect your child. Trust me, I do. (But) if all this started over being called a slut, they are truly to be felt sorry for. I've been called many things in my life but a slut was never one of them, do you want to know why? Because I'm not one, but if I was, I would deal with it and move on.

  5. What Jeri says is right. We need to have lie detectors on every post. A button that you can click and learn whether the poster is telling the truth or not. Megan should be able to call Sarah a slut but now she's dead.


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