Thanks to this site’s top commentator, Aruna, for pointing me towards this sad story that shows that email and internet hoaxes can, and do, cause problems.
For Megan Meier, the hurt caused by a fake MySpace profile eventually led to her taking her own life.
It may be fair to say that Megan Meier was not a particularly happy child when she met ‘Josh’ on the internet.
A 13 year old girl with attention deficit order, she was also suffering from depression at the time when Josh began corresponding with her through the social site MySpace.
The two of them exchanged messages regularly for over a month before Josh suddenly ended the relationship, stating that he had heard that Megan wasn’t nice to her friends.
Tina Meier, Megan’s mother, knew that her daughter was upset and decided to take a closer look at her daughter’s online communications.
She was quite disturbed by some of the messages, both those received by, and sent by, her daughter. She asked Megan to log off from MySpace, a site she wasn’t old enough to be using in the first place.
The next day, October 16th 2006, Megan hanged herself in her bedroom.
The day after Megan’s death, her father found a subsequent message sent to her through MySpace, stating that the world would be better off without her.
Several weeks later the family learned that the whole concept of Josh had been an elaborate hoax, crafted by a neighbour, her daughter and another child.
It would appear that this was done in response to some sort of feud between the two families.
Unfortunately, according to law enforcement officials, such a hoax and the subsequent suicide of Megan, does not fit into any existing crime and so the people behind ‘Josh’ will not be prosecuted.
Tina Meier accepts that no-one ever intended that the hoax should lead to Megan’s death.
However, this hoax does go to show that hoaxes are not always harmless fun, or without victims, whatever their original intent may have been.