Monday, December 22, 2008

Missouri Authorities Charge 7 People With Cyberbullying

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Missouri prosecutors have filled charges against seven people under a new anti-cyberharassment statute. The law went into effect in late August and was passed after 13-year-old Megan Meier hanged herself in Missouri in 2006 following online harassment through a MySpace account.

Missouri lawmakers drafted the new legislation to outlaw future threats or harassing communication that causes emotional distress, including electronic messaging on computers, text messaging and e-mail. Charges can be filed as misdemeanors or felonies.

The reported charges are as follows:
  • A 21-year-old woman named Nicole Williams was charged for allegedly sending harassing text messages to a 16-year-old girl and allowing others to use her cellphone to leave vulgar voicemail messages for the victim threatening her with rape, among other things. Williams allegedly targeted the teen over a jealous dispute involving a boy, according to the Post-Dispatch.
  • Two St. Louis men were charged separately with sending harassing text messages to their ex-girlfriends.
  • A man protesting the development of a proposed resort was charged with sending a threatening e-mail to city hall staff.
  • A 28-year-old woman was accused of sending harassing text messages to her ex-husband's girlfriend.
  • A 19-year-old man was charged with sending some 17 text messages to his mother's husband.
  • A 17-year-old involved with a classmate in a dispute over a girl is accused of sending the classmate death threats via text messages.

The majority of these charges look fairly ridiculous. I mean who hasn't sent or received a nasty message from an ex? It would appear as though this is just another knee-jerk reaction. Which resulted in the creation and implementation of a poorly written law. Unfortunatly the government is forced to respond in some manner or they risk facing more public backlash.

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