The AP is reporting that as many as one in three children in the US have been a victim of what is being called cyberbullying. This comes hard on the heels of the much publicized case of Megan Meier, a 13 year-old from suburban St. Louis who committed suicide last year after believing that a boyfriend she met on MySpace had broken up with her. The boyfriend was later revealed to have been a hoax creation of Meier's 47 year-old neighbor Lori Drew. The story received widespread coverage in the national media. Local authorities declined to charge Ms. Drew with any crime, but the local Board of Alderman chose this week to pass an ordinance making online harassment punishable with up to 90 days in jail.
On a related noted, I noticed a story on the Blogging Ethics newscrawl installed this week on the lower right hand corner of this page by Devin Stewart. This from OKC Friday, which bills itself as "the Newspaper for Oklahoma's Trendsetters":
A Village woman’s nasty blog posting was met with real life threats that led to Village Police sending out a metro-wide notice regarding a potentially dangerous person. On Oct. 17, a woman called police to report receiving threatening email messages. According to reports, the woman suspected the messages came from another woman who had been involved with the caller’s ex-husband. She told police she had written bad things about the other woman on her MySpace page and, although she did not name names in the posting, thought the subject of the postings had somehow found them and knew they were about her.You can read the rest here.
Two examples of the anonymous world of the internet spilling over into the "real world" with tragic consequences. Have you been bullied online? Do you consider this a tolerable byproduct of the freedom of expression that the internet provides?