Town bans Net harassment following MySpace hoax

A year after 13-year-old victim of adult-created online hoax commits suicide, her suburban St. Louis town passes a law banning such harassment.

Amid continued outcry over the hoax that preceded a teenager's suicide, the town of Dardenne Prairie, Mo., has passed a law banning online harassment.

Although it's only a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail or a $500 fine, the law is specifically targeted at the kind of online attack that Meier faced in the days prior to her death last year.

"It is our hope that by supporting one of our own in Dardenne Prairie, we can do our part to ensure this type of harassing behavior never happens again, anywhere," Mayor Pam Fogarty said in a St. Louis Post Dispatch article. "After all, harassment is harassment, regardless of the mechanism or tool."

For those who missed my original posting or the many news reports elsewhere, Meier committed suicide after a falling-out with "Josh," a person she met on MySpace and believed to be a fellow teen in the area. In fact, Josh was the fictional creation of adults, including the parent of a former friend that lived down the street, according to that neighbor's own account in a police report.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the community also held a candlelight vigil, organized by Meier's mother.

For more on the community's reaction to the whole affair, check out this Los Angeles Times piece, written by P.J. Huffstutter, a reporter whom I know from my Orange County days a decade ago.

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