The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that social network MySpace was issued a subpoena in the investigation of a 13-year-old girl's 2006 suicide that involved harassment through a fabricated profile on the News Corp.-owned site. The article also said that "witnesses in the case" had additionally received subpoaenas.
Representatives from MySpace were not immediately available for comment or confirmation. The social network is no stranger to court orders, having been subpoenaed by multiple state attorneys general last year over sex offender concerns.
But the tragic case of Megan Meier's suicide is a very different situation; my colleague Ina Fried has been following the issue closely on her Beyond Binary blog. Meier, who had a history of depression, hanged herself after a falling out with someone named "Josh" whom she thought was a 16-year-old boy on MySpace. As it turns out, "Josh" didn't exist; the persona was created by a number of adults, including a woman named Lori Drew, the mother of one of Meier's former friends, specifically to harass the girl.
But no charges have been filed yet, despite the efforts of local and state authorities in Meier's home state of Missouri. The Times article reported that it is still not clear as to who actually created the fictional account--this is something that cooperation from MySpace could help reveal. Sources who spoke to the Times anonymously said that the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, where MySpace is headquartered, is looking at charging Lori Drew with defrauding MySpace by creating the fake profile.
In November, Meier's hometown of Dardenne Prairie, Mo. passed a law banning online harassment. Offenders can face up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.