MySpace avoids liability in Megan Meier suicide, victim of terms of use breach

MySpace's contention that the social network was a victim, and not an enabler, in the suicide of Missouri teenager Megan Meier has paid off. A federal grand jury has indicted Lori Drew on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization, with each count carrying a maximum of five years. The indictment cited how Drew and other unnamed coconspirators breached MySpace's terms of use by creating a fake account to trade messages with Meier, and "used the information obtained over the MySpace computer system to torment, harass, humiliate, and embarrass the juvenile MySpace member."

The unauthorized-access law has never been cited in a social-networking case, having previously been used by the Justice Department to go after hackers, according to U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien. Most importantly, for all the scare reports in the media of MySpace aiding and abetting crime and other moral backsliding, the Justice Department and the FBI sent a clear message that the company is not liable for the behavior of its users outside the site's stated restrictions. (Photo AP/Tom Gannam)