MySpace: A Place for Lawsuits

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Social networking site MySpace is hit with a $30 million lawsuit after a 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 19-year-old man she met through the site. The suit claims "that the Web site does not require users to verify their age and calls the security measures aimed at preventing strangers from contacting users younger than 16 'utterly ineffective.'"

As the story is told here, the family is missing out on some further opportunities to spread the blame for the man's crime to deeper pockets. Lawyer Adam Loewy

said he was confident about the lawsuit, which he said seeks damages worth 1 percent of the company's estimated worth.

"We feel that 1 percent of that is the bare minimum that they should compensate the girl for their failure to protect her online when they knew sexual predators were on that site," he said.

Both whoever their telephone provider might be, and most likely both the state of Texas and the federal government (ostensible owners of the roads the accused rapist used to meet her and take her to the scene of the crime) seem at fault as well in facilitating his heinous action, as they too surely are aware–or should have been, if they weren't so damn criminally negligent–that sexual predators are on the phone and on the roads.

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  1. MySpace says on a “Tips for Parents” page that users must be 14 or older. The Web site does nothing to verify the age of the user, such as requiring a driver’s license or credit card number, Loewy said.

    How many 14-year-olds have driver’s licenses and credit cards?

  2. We feel that 1 percent of that is the bare minimum that they should compensate the girl

    Totally aside from whatever merit this case has or doesn’t, I find this logic especially interesting, that the damages should be tied to some percentage of the company’s “estimated worth”. I wonder (and this isn’t the first time) if the “treating corporations as people” that the left rails against facilitates big awards. Seems it would be a lot harder to bring an executive, even a very rich one, before a jury and act like the very least this rascal should pay is ten times his personal worth, or whatever.

  3. Where the fuck were the girl’s parents while this was going on? I’ve raised several teenage girls, and you can bet that I kept tabs on their online activities, not to mention their meatspace activities.

    Responsibility has no meaning, though, to a slobbering tort lawyer.

  4. “not to mention their meatspace activities.”

    That sounds so wrong in this context.

  5. How many 14-year-olds have driver’s licenses and credit cards?

    Yes, I know (stop making sense!!), but I’m sure some lawyer will point out that many child-oriented sites have login provisions for parents to acknowledge online that they permit the child to use the site, and I’m sure there’s some state or federal legislation somewhere (isn’t there always) that requires people under 18 to get some sort of permission, just like those adult sites (which I’ve never seen, of course) that post a warning about being over 18 to view the pages.

    Now that that bastion of family values and patriotic fervor, News Corp, owns Myspace, I’m sure that a) there will be new provisions forthcoming to address age related problems with the service, and b) Rupert’s barristers will bitchslap the hell out of this girl’s attorneys.

  6. Responsibility has no meaning, though, to a slobbering tort lawyer.

    As a wannabe future attorney, I take umbrage at that remark and intend to sue for professional defamation.

    The Feds will be no-knocking on your door in twenty seconds …

  7. The lawyer’s predictions are probably about as accurate as the predictions MySpace makes about its future revenues. And about as responsible, too. What a fallen world we do business in!

    I am glad this issue is being settled in the courts rather than Congress.

    If MySpace were one of those services that promises to shield your kid from bad things in exchange for money, a different result would be called for.

  8. So, what prevents a 19 year old man from claiming to be a 14 year old boy?

    Surely he could get his “19 year old guardian” to validate his status.

    When Bill Gates mandates that all PC’s ship with NetNanny, is this an admission of liability for failing to do this sooner, or is it an unfair monopolistic practice?

  9. What’s Myspace?

    Is it on the worldwide interfax? Is it similar to woogle?

  10. There is a federal law that greatly restricts the ability of Web sites to provide any sort of services to kids under 13.

    If I were setting up a Web site such as MySpace, I’d make any new user solve a quadratic equation… that would mostly winnow out both the underage and the dumbfucks. And any underage folks who did pass this test would be bright enough to know better…

    Hmmm… a new twist on the captcha concept, weeding out both ‘bots and idiots. I think I like it!

  11. “If you interact on MySpace, you are safe, but if a 13-year-old or 14-year-old goes out in person and meets someone she doesn’t know, that is always an unsafe endeavor,” Gelman said. “We need to teach our kids to be wary of strangers.”

    Well. Yes. So how about knowing where the kids are and who they are going to meet? Did the mother just have NO interaction with her daughter? My mom knew who I was with and where I was going, ESPECIALLY if strangers were picking me up from school. Parental responsibility? Never even brought up in this case.

  12. When Bill Gates mandates that all PC’s ship with NetNanny, is this an admission of liability for failing to do this sooner, or is it an unfair monopolistic practice?

    No, the monopolistic practice is the problem where Bill Gates can dictate any feature of too many personal computers.

    If the market is healthy there will always be a meaningful choice, no matter what Bill Gates says.

    That said, I can see why Bill Clinton left M$ intact. Now his wife will be able to use the mon…, errr oligopoly proactively to do her bidding. Whoopsy daisy!

  13. AOL’s current article about this lawsuit mentions a 16-year-old girl who “tricked” (their word) her parents into getting her a passport so she could fly to Jordan to meet a man she met on MySpace. I presume her parents will shortly file suit against MySpace, the airline, the federal government for allowing them to allow this, and whatever educational system turned out people so stupid they could be tricked into letting their daughter cross national boundaries to meet some dude off the Internet.

  14. Damn that Bill Gates and his fleet of helicopter gunships, dictating that people install his evil Windows products! Curse him forever for providing a product that so much of the market finds acceptable that I have to convert or die! Damn him for failing to provide a Linux installation disk in every Windows package!

    Crawl back under your fucking rock, Dave.

  15. There is a federal law that greatly restricts the ability of Web sites to provide any sort of services to kids under 13.

    That’s not entirely accurate. I think the law restricts how much personal information can be collected on anyone under the age of 13, but that may or may not restrict any services provided.

  16. The parents should be glad they’re not rich. It seems the girl has a better case against them than against Myspace. As her legal guardians, the parents clearly failed to adopt and enforce security measures aimed at preventing strangers from directly meeting their under-16 daughter.

    But what better way to obscure their own negligence than by blaming someone else?

  17. The way that COPPA adherence has been implemented, though, has been to effectively bar kids under 13 from gaining access to many services… unless they falsify their age.

  18. If they first met at a mall, church, parking lot would the mall, church or parking lot get sued?

    If myspace was in debt and worthless, would the girl owe myspace money if she won?

  19. Honestly, beat it, Dave.

    “dictate any feature of too many personal computers.”

    Just how exactly does he ‘dictate’ what’s on my computer? You’re something else. Really.

  20. This reminds me of a South Park episode where the gang visits a porn site. They keep answering all the questions they’re asked with “yes” even though they’re all lies, including, “Are you 18 or older?” Then they finally get to the porn site and start wretching and gagging and throwing up all over the place over what they see there!

  21. Just posted the reason snippet on my MySpace bulletin, for all my liberal friends to read.

    I hope that is OK with reason. I didn’t post a link, but I will talk about reason in my next bulletin, is that going to be OK?

  22. The suggestion that Gates might put NetNanny on all the machines did not come from me, it came from another poster. Taking Bubba’s suggestion seriously does not make me the bad guy here. If Bubba’s suggestion was sarcastic he/she should have used the “/sarc” tag. I don’t think it was sarcastic.

    In other words, follow the thd, Morans. If you can’t do that, at least see that I am co-operating with T.’s magic filter. He will probably share the filter with you so long as you are sufficiently respectful of science and scientists.

  23. If I were setting up a Web site such as MySpace, I’d make any new user solve a quadratic equation…

    But that would FOIL most American adults, as well.

    (Bad math joke of the day)

  24. FOIL

    ack, im suffering deja-vu all over again…

  25. It’s too bad the 19-year-old only allegedly raped her. If he’d allegedly killed her, he could at least have prevented her from reproducing more little trailer ho-tards who are just as stupid as she is.

    If you don’t know, by the age of 14 — with presumably a long history of Internet use behind you, and after countless mass-media stories about Internet hookups gone terribly, terribly wrong — if you still don’t even suspect how dangerous meeting strangers from the Internet can be by that age, you are too @#$%ing stupid to live, and I for one will be grateful to see you removed from the gene pool.

  26. I hope MySpace not only wins, but then turns around and reports this girl’s parents to social services for criminal neglect.

  27. The suggestion that Gates might put NetNanny on all the machines did not come from me, it came from another poster. Taking Bubba’s suggestion seriously does not make me the bad guy here. If Bubba’s suggestion was sarcastic he/she should have used the “/sarc” tag. I don’t think it was sarcastic.

    In other words, follow the thd, Morans.

    We were responding to your dumbass comment, reproduced below, O ye of short memory and poor spelling:

    No, the monopolistic practice is the problem where Bill Gates can dictate any feature of too many personal computers.

    Right back atcha, moron.

  28. en, Amen.
    Me and the evil Dr T were posting comments on another thread about stuff we would do for society if we had obscene amounts of money.

    One idea you just gave me would be to set up a law firm that goes after and sues parents who sue the government, or corporations for stuff their dumb kid and bad parenting are responsible for.

    I think that would be a major victory for justice in our country.

  29. Clean Hands

    “If I were setting up a Web site such as MySpace, I’d make any new user solve a quadratic equation… that would mostly winnow out both the underage and the dumbfucks. And any underage folks who did pass this test would be bright enough to know better…”

    Except if they use one the zillion websites out there that will solve it for you. Heck if you did that people would be Instant messageing programs or webpages just to solve the equation.

  30. Good point, Paul. Perhaps a word problem instead… those can be notoriously tricky for even humans to reduce to a solveable equation.

  31. “Morans” – I think that illustrates rule #3 of internet message boards.

  32. If the resting metabolism rate is X and the metabolism rate during exercise is Y, and a kid eats 2000 calories per day, how many hours will he have to exercise?

    Extra credit: If he doesn’t exercise, whom should he sue?

    Nobody can post until they solve the problem.

  33. If the resting metabolism rate is X and the metabolism rate during exercise is Y, and a kid eats 2000 calories per day, how many hours will he have to exercise?

    t_e=(2000-24X)/(Y-X)

    Assuming X and Y are in Cal./hr.

  34. Brian has posting privileges now!

    🙂

  35. Sorry, BC and T, but you are both wrong. The correct answer is that there in no correct answer because it is not stated whether the boy needs to gain weight, lose weight or stay the same.

  36. Zeroentitlement, you are darn right! 14 is old enough to know better. And no, I’m not saying she deserved what she got, but the little dumbass was negligent. I can’t even fully blame her parents for her blatant stupidity – even if her parents didn’t teach her anything, what about the “constant media bombardment” that faces teenagers nowadays?

  37. Dude Without Dog-

    Fine, Brian loses his posting privileges. 🙂

    Seriously, good point. That was an ill-posed problem.

  38. that sexual predators are on the phone and on the roads

    …neither of which is private property, right? Isn’t MySpace a private system?

    C’mon, I thought y’all were supposed to be consistent in your criticisms.

  39. Perhaps I will do an internet sting! I can get on myspace, and attempt to lure impressionable young girls to meet me, despite an abundance of clues that doing so would not be wise. The ones who are dumb enough to show up will be tossed into the tiger enclosure. And (Margaret Hamilton Voice) their little dogs, and lawyers, too.

    ps- what’s a quadratic? and why is it in disequilibrium? haven’t they found the market-clearing price?

  40. P Brooks,

    But if you threw them in a tiger enclosure, wouldn’t the tigers be sued for eating them? Or would the cage be sued for enclosing the tigers and dumbass girls together?

    Oy, this legal stuff is oh-so-confusing. I think I’ll stay locked up in my underground bunker for the rest of my life to avoid being sued… or to avoid that scary internet which will lure me to ill-meaning strangers.

  41. “that sexual predators are on the phone and on the roads”

    …neither of which is private property, right? Isn’t MySpace a private system?

    C’mon, I thought y’all were supposed to be consistent in your criticisms.

    Well, I believe phone utilities are private-sector companies, although I admit with all the regulation you could maybe argue about whee to draw the line.

    But I don’t see how public vs. private ownership makes a difference here. If a public employee — say, the commanding officer of an Air Force base in Texas — put the 14-year-old girl aboard an Air Force cargo plane (a publicly owned vehicle) and flew her off somewhere without her parents knowledge or permission to meet an older dude for sex, wouldn’t he still be liable?

  42. “But if you threw them in a tiger enclosure, wouldn’t the tigers be sued for eating them? Or would the cage be sued for enclosing the tigers and dumbass girls together?”

    There is that risk. That’s why you toss their lawyers in after them.

    Hey- do lonely lawyers frequent myspace? I’m getting an idea.

  43. Hey- do lonely lawyers frequent myspace? I’m getting an idea.

    Well, in my experience as posing as a 14-year-old on MySpace, lawyers have been my most frequent customers.

  44. A new article from a couple of hours ago:
    http://www.redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=17340&hed=MySpace+Tightens+Safety&sector=Industries&subsector=EntertainmentAndMedia

    This is my favorite part:
    “The fact is children unattended on the Internet on chat rooms and social networking sites are at risk,” said the congressman. He criticized the new initiatives for failing to address children who lie about their age when they register for the site, and said he was looking into instituting requirements for prospective members to register using credit cards or showing proof of parental permission.

    “CHILDREN UNATTENDED”
    Ok, so let’s blame the initiatives, not the parents. Can we PLEASE just kill of all the idiots?!

  45. Thoreau, you’re missing the most important variable of all, since you forgot to mention if those calories are regular calories or super-powerful corn syrup calories.

  46. He criticized the new initiatives for failing to address children who lie about their age when they register for the site, and said he was looking into instituting requirements for prospective members to register using credit cards or showing proof of parental permission.

    Many Americans these days teeter on the edge of economic ruin from a massive, unmanageable personal debt trap they can’t get out of. For the individuals involved, this can be catastrophic. There’s even the chance that these massive levels of debt may prove devastating to the country’s economy as a whole.

    On an unrelated topic, let’s make America better by requiring 13- and 14-year-olds to get credit cards before they can visit popular Internet sites.

  47. “…in my experience as posing as a 14-year-old on MySpace, lawyers have been my most frequent customers.”

    Have you been posing as a fourteen year old girl? or boy? No matter; so long as we can keep the tigers fat and happy.

    And speaking of mission creep: have you been getting any nibbles(!) from the direction of Capitol Hill? Would you be averse to posing as a Congessional Page?

  48. I try to keep my MySpace gender neutral: where they ask for “sex” I simply put “yes, please.” I find I attract more of the creeps that way.

    I’ll make sure to post some particularly Capitol-Hill appropriate bait next time.

  49. Who was it (Lieberman?) who was saying in Congessional hearings that the RIAA should be allowed to perform seek-and-destroy missions over the internet to disable computers used for illegal downloading?

    Why not the same treatment for inappropriate cyber-bonding? I see mission creep everywhere I look.

  50. Hey- do lonely lawyers frequent myspace? I’m getting an idea.

    Dunno — Dave?

  51. The ones who are dumb enough to show up will be tossed into the tiger enclosure.

    Meh, I hope those poor tigers enjoy the taste of fruit-flavored lip gloss, Jessica Simpson lickable perfume, Slim-Fast shakes, and teen boy jizz.

  52. Okay, zero, on that note, I’m officially feeling nauseous. And, in case you can’t tell, I have a pretty strong stomach. (It’s because of all of the HFCS I consume, doncha know?)

  53. (Or maybe it’s the HFCS in that “perfume…”)

  54. Dunno — Dave?

    No MySpace. I always thougt of that as more of a Fyodor thing.

    You can download my records from:

    http://www.farceswannamo.com

    This weekend I added one click whole-album downloading. Also put up 2000’s Mess Of Pottage ep, for those looking to go further back in my catalog. No HFCS, but the song “Buildings That Obviously Used To Be Banks” is pretty whiny.

  55. If I were setting up a Web site such as MySpace, I’d make any new user solve a quadratic equation… that would mostly winnow out both the underage and the dumbfucks.

    Unfortunately, that demographic covers about 95% of MySpace users.

  56. http://www.1728.com/quadratc.htm

    I am not sure the Clean Hands test would winnow as well as ya think.

  57. Bill Gates won’t be dictating anything as he has left Microsoft so he could give away more of his money like a good Democrat.

  58. As long as Clean Hands never stated it was a quadratic equation, the people trying to pass would need to know it was even called a quadratic equation to even find that think. The fact that one could identify a quadratic equation and know its name is enough points in my book that you’re not a complete moron*.

    *I would guess about 90% of MySpace users don’t even know what a quadratci equation is. probably about 20% of the general population.

  59. As long as Clean Hands never stated it was a quadratic equation, the people trying to pass would need to know it was even called a quadratic equation to even find that think.

    But of course whatever kind of equation you used, some bright kid somewhere would crack it and set up a site even more userfriendly and tailored than the one I linked. Them kids gots the Itrawebs, ya know!

  60. As long as Clean Hands never stated it was a quadratic equation, the people trying to pass would need to know it was even called a quadratic equation to even find that think. The fact that one could identify a quadratic equation and know its name is enough points in my book that you’re not a complete moron*.

    *I would guess about 90% of MySpace users don’t even know what a quadratic equation is. I’d guess about 80% of the general population don’t either.

  61. *I would guess about 90% of MySpace users don’t even know what a quadratic equation is. I’d guess about 80% of the general population don’t either.

    But what percentage could outGOOGLE us grownups, Mo? That is the relevant inquiry. the old wisdom is obsolete. Hail new puritan. Cook one. Maelstrom. Righteous mealstrom.

  62. “mealstrom” should either be –maelstrom– or –mealstorm–. I can’t remember. My record player has been broken since 1997.

  63. Where does assumption of risk come into play? Surely, the sexual assault on a child is a heinous crime that should be punished in the worst possible way. That being said, who bears the blame? The state? The accused? The victim? Their parents? Or the web site that facilitated the communication?

    Blaming Myspace.com as the sole responsible party for the crime violates most common held bounds of reason. As Libertarians aren’t we supposed to believe in individual responsibility, if not from the minor from the parents?

    This is certainly a tragic case, and there have been other similar cases, all of which defy logic. A stranger pulls up in a car offering candy and an innocent child gets into the car with them because they enjoy candy… We are not to blame the child, or the manufacturer of the automobile, or the manufacturer of the candy, but the parents for not preparing their child for the real world. Except, in such cases, the parents are beyond criticism because their child was a victim! A victim of their own lack of education or oversight!

    Harsh words, certainly, that does not make them less true.

  64. people that created myspace are pedo
    that is the reason why they created it becuase they know kids would come to there site and post pics of them

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