Student Press Law Center is reporting that two students are being sued over a fake MySpace profile. Anna Draker, a high school principal at Clark High School in Texas claims that two students, "Benjamin Schreiber and Ryan Todd, both 16 years old, created a MySpace profile for her and posted false information, including doctored photographs, fabricated quotes and information indicating Draker was a lesbian."
Draker, a mother of two, claims out of pocket losses from missing work days and medical expenses.
This just highlights the problems of MySpace and other sites that do little to confirm the identity of the people posting profiles. There is no system in place to prevent someone from getting on one of these sites, creating a profile in someone else's name and proceeding to ruin that person's reputation.
But it seems that much more than one's reputation is at stake. I am predicting that, in the near future, employers, investigators and other people in power will use these types of sites to research a person. And why not. It's free, and most people are thoughtless enough to put their real name so anyone can search for it. It's already been proven that journalists are using MySpace to "dig up dirt" on politicians or people in public office. And authorities are using MySpace to track down fugitives.
I hope these kids get nailed to the wall, which would mean the parents would ultimately be responsible, or one would hope. Apparently, some of the photos on this fake MySpace profile were pornographic, so they would have had to been allowed unsupervised access to the internet. I know, I know....you're thinking they're 16 and can handle themselves. Well, obviously not.
And where exactly is the website's responsibility in this? When is it their turn to own up and be responsible for the damage their tool is creating? MySpace could do more to verify the identity and age of their members. But they don't, because that would limit their success, their membership and, most important to the company, their bottom dollar. I don't wish bad on people often, but I would like to see these kids, the parents and MySpace all successfully sued. It seems to be the only effective teacher in life lessons these days.
When you get past the semantics, the personal responsiblity and the MySpace fans it all boils down to the almighty dollar. Keep making their money kids.