As someone totally immersed in the digital world, I’m always a little surprised when I hear of people deeply suspicious of the Internet. It’s the 21st century, I think. But with stories like that of Megan Meiers, even I get shocked, slightly paranoid, and start fiddling with my Facebook privacy control.

Megan Meiers was an 8th grader in Dardenne Prairie, MO who began exchanging messages with a boy, Josh Evans, she met on MySpace. Out of the blue, Josh wanted to break off their relationship and sent messages saying, “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends.” Megan, who had a history of self-esteem problems and depression, committed suicide.

The bizarre and tragic twist to this story is that Josh Evans turned out to be a fake. He was an online identity created by a mother of Megan’s former friend. The original St. Charles Journal article left out the names of the imposters, but bloggers have outed their identity online. Megan’s parents went to the media with their story and are pushing for legislation to criminalize the mother’s actions. Anyone with legal expertise have any thoughts?

The issue here obviously stretches beyond the digital world, but it does bring up the unique problem of cyberbullying: anonymity. After all, anyone can be a dog on the Internet, and anyone could be your ex-friend’s mom.

-Sarah Z.

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