AP: Routine conduct at risk with MySpace suicide case. Think twice before you sign up for an online service using a fake name or e-mail address. You could be committing a federal crime. Federal prosecutors turned to a novel interpretation of computer hacking law to indict a Missouri mother on charges connected to the suicide of a 13-year-old MySpace user.
What the woman in Missouri did was despicable. She masqueraded as a flirty teenage boy and created emotional havoc with a girl who killed herself. Maybe the dead girl’s family has a civil case.
But if this is a crime, then America is a land of criminals — because this is a practice that anyone with common sense engages in from time to time. Yes, some do it for mischief. But pseudonyms are also about sometimes justified self-protection.
We should stand behind our words. But the best way to handle anonymous and pseudonymous trolls and sleazebags is to ignore them and persuade everyone else that such speech is less than worthless. Sending people to jail for this is an assault on speech itself.