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.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien: Lori Drew decided to humiliate a child. November 28, 2008

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ABC Jury Convicts Mom of Lesser Charges in Online Hoax, 27 November 2008

“Lori Drew decided to humiliate a child. The only way she could harm this pretty little girl was with a computer. She chose to use a computer to hurt a little girl, and for four weeks she enjoyed it.” U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien, chief federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, during closing arguments.

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MySpace: Lori Drew off the hook on conspiracy, convicted for computer fraud November 27, 2008

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New York Times, 27 November 2008

A federal jury here issued what legal experts said was the country’s first cyberbullying verdict Wednesday, convicting a Missouri woman of three misdemeanor charges of computer fraud for her involvement in creating a phony account on MySpace to trick a teenager, who later committed suicide.

The jury deadlocked on a fourth count of conspiracy against the woman, Lori Drew, 49, and the judge, George H. Wu of Federal District Court, declared a mistrial on that charge. (more)

Verdict in MySpace Suicide Case November 27, 2008

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BBC, 27 November 2008

An American woman, accused of driving a teenage girl to suicide by bullying her on MySpace, has been cleared of one of the most serious charges against her.

Lori Drew, 49, was found not guilty of accessing a computer without authorisation to inflict emotional distress.

The jury failed to reach a verdict on another conspiracy charge.

She was convicted on three minor counts of violating the website’s terms and conditions.

Drew, from Missouri, was accused of posing as a boy on MySpace to befriend 13-year-old Megan Meier, who hanged herself after their virtual relationship ended.

The court in Los Angeles heard that Lori Drew was aware Megan suffered from depression and was emotionally fragile.

Drew was charged with violating MySpace’s terms of use, which ban users from assuming false identities and harassing other members.

The case is the first in the US relating to cyber-bullying.

Lori Drew could receive up to three years in prison when she is sentenced.

She would have faced a maximum 20 years if convicted of the more serious felony charges.

Teenager Abraham K. Biggs Commits Suicide on Live Webcam November 22, 2008

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Associated Content, 21 November 2008

He said he would do it. And he did. Abraham K. Biggs, a 19-year-old Florida bodybuilder, took some sleeping pills on live webcam, lay down and went to sleep. Just like he said he would.

But the teenager never intended to wake up. And he didn’t.

While others watched. And others turned away. And still others encouraged and taunted him.

Abraham K. Biggs, known online as “CandyJunkie” and “Mr. Biggs,” told fellow users in an online bodybuilding forum on Justin.tv – a lifecasting website, where users share via webcam their everyday lives – that he would be committing suicide and invited them to tune in.

Some users saw Biggs take what looked like sleeping pills, lay down on his bed with his back to the camera, and stop moving. After a few hours, some worried that he may have actually went through with his threat because of the stillness of his body. Authorities were notified and police entered the room — live on webcam. After checking for a pulse, they covered the webcam.

Abraham K. Biggs has been reportedly pronounced dead by a Broward Country medical examiner.

Biggs posted on MySpace that he was going to commit suicide three days before he actually went through with it. A post from a week before related how he had closed a chapter in his life and was apologetic to friends for his recent behavior.

It is alleged that some users have deleted their posts from the forum. In light of the ongoing court case involving the suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier as a result of alleged cyberbullying from neighbor Lori Drew, users fear that they may in some way be held responsible are well grounded.

Testimony in the Meier case began Wednesday (November 19) in Los Angeles, although the suicide took place in Missouri. The alleged bullying took place on MySpace, where 49-year-old Lori Drew created the MySpace account of “Josh Evans” to allegedly ridicule and harass teenager Megan Meier. MySpace’s corporate offices are located in Los Angeles.

#@*!!! Anonymous anger rampant on Internet November 4, 2008

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CNN, 3 November 2008

There’s a whole world of people out there, and boy, are they pissed off.

On political blogs, the invective flies. Posters respond to the latest celebrity gossip with mockery or worse. Sports fans set up Web sites with names that begin with “fire,” hoping coaches, athletic directors and sportscasters lose their jobs.

And though there are any number of bloggers and commenters who attempt to keep their postings and responses on a civil level, all too often interactive Web sites descend into ad hominem attacks, insults and plain old name-calling. Indeed, there are even whole sites devoted to venting, such as justrage.com (one screed there was titled, “I don’t give a flying f***, so f*** you”) and mybiggestcomplaint.com.

This is not a world Emily Post would want to be caught in after dark.

“The Internet can be a great tool,” said Sara Black, a professor of health studies at St. Joseph’s University who takes a particular interest in online bullying. “Like any tool, it can also be misused.” (more)

Los Angeles Court: Restraining Order For Member Of Anonymous October 27, 2008

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Best Syndication, 27 October 2008

LOS ANGELES: A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Friday issued a restraining order against Donald Myers, a member of a cyber-terrorist group known as Anonymous. The order requires Myers to stay at least 50 yards away from a female Scientologist he stalked and harassed. The order also requires Myers to stay away from the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition at the Church of Scientology International building in Hollywood where the victim works, and stay 50 yards away from the woman’s home. The restraining order lasts for 3 years unless renewed.

Myers was found to have engaged in acts of harassment against the young woman, after video evidence was submitted to the court showing Myers stalking her, taunting her with sexual slurs, and refusing repeated requests to leave her alone. Myers was also ordered by the court to turn over any firearms in his possession to the police.

This is the second restraining order issued against a member of Anonymous this week. On October 21, a Boston Court ordered self-styled Anonymous leader Gregg Housh to stay 100 yards away from the Boston Church of Scientology. Housh was placed on probation for one year with the threat from the Court that if he violates the restraining order or any other law, he faces a year in prison.

Anonymous has been implicated in numerous criminal acts, including bomb threats, death threats, vandalism and computer crimes which are being investigated by law enforcement.

On October 17, The U.S. Department of Justice filed federal criminal charges against New Jersey Anonymous member Dmitriy Guzner related to the January 2008 attempted destruction of websites owned by the Church of Scientology. Guzner has agreed to plead guilty to felony charges that could send him to prison for ten years.

In November 2007, Anonymous member Pekka-Eric Auvinen shot and killed seven students, a nurse and a teacher at Jokela High School in Finland before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life. Prior to these acts Auvinen stated on a website used by Anonymous that he would do this all “in the name of Anonymous.” He was immediately encouraged to carry out his threats by other members of the group, who afterwards called him a “hero.”

“Law enforcement and the courts are seeing through the false image that the cyber-terrorist group Anonymous tries to portray to the media and are sending a clear message to everyone – if Anonymous breaks the law, Anonymous will suffer the legal consequences” said Karin Pouw of the Church of Scientology International. She also said that “the Church will never be intimidated by the criminal acts committed by Anonymous members and will continue to work with law enforcement to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice for the protection of the Church and all groups targeted by these terrorists.”

O’Reilly Hacked for Comments about Palin Hack September 20, 2008

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Wired, 19 Sept 2008

A hacker claims to have cracked the web site of Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly and purloined a list of subscribers to the site, which includes their names, e-mail addresses, city and state, and the password they use for their registration to the site.

The attack was retaliation for comments that O’Reilly made on the air this week about web sites that published e-mails obtained from the Yahoo account of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, according to a press release distributed by WikiLeaks late Friday.

The hacker sent WikiLeaks a screenshot of O’Reilly’s subscriber list as proof of the deed, which WikiLeaks has posted online.

This week on his Fox show, O’Reilly slammed web sites, such as WikiLeaks and Gawker, for posting screenshots of e-mails, family photos and a list of contacts taken from Palin’s private e-mail account.

“They’re trafficking in stolen merchandise,” O’Reilly said during one of his shows, calling for their prosecution. He also referred to a site that published the screenshots as “despicable, slimy, scummy.”

In the video above, O’Reilly spoke with Amanda Carpenter, a reporter for Townhall.com who agreed with him and said that a web site that published such information was “complicit” in the hack of Palin’s e-mail account.

“They think it’s newsworthy, even though the information was absolutely, illegally obtained,” she said.

Neither O’Reilly nor Carpenter mentioned the First Amendment protection that media organizations, such as Fox News and Townhall.com, are generally afforded for publishing newsworthy information.

That segment was followed the next day by a segment with Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly, a lawyer, who explained why the First Amendment would protect the sites. (See video below.)

O’Reilly, disagreed with her, however.

“If your grandma sends you 50 bucks for your birthday and somebody steals the letter and gives it to somebody else and they take the 50 bucks, they’re going to get charged as well as this person who stole the letter,” he said.

Kelly explained that taking stolen money and publishing news were not the same.

“That’s crazy,” he said.

“No it’s not crazy,” Kelly replied. “Because . . . what if somebody obtained a document illegally that proved some massive conspiracy among the presidential candidates and they leaked it to Fox News and we knew it was stolen. You don’t think we’d put it on the air? You’re darn right we would. And it’s not illegal.”

WikiLeaks said in its press release that it had confirmed the authenticity of the list, but didn’t mention how it did so.

Efforts by Threat Level to contact Fox News and some of the subscribers on the list to independently verify the authenticity of the list were unsuccessful.

Palin Hacker Group’s All-Time Greatest Hits September 20, 2008

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Wired, 19 Sept 2008

By Ryan Singel September 19, 2008 | 3:04:51 PMCategories: Hacks and Cracks

Anonymous isn’t so anonymous anymore.

At least not after one “member” of Anonymous, the loose confederation of online troublemakers, broke into the personal e-mail account of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and then posted the new password to Anonymous’ online message board.

From there, others slipped screenshots and family photos to the leak-releasing website Wikileaks, launching a maelstrom of media coverage and widespread speculation as to the e-mail hacker’s real name.

For those unfamiliar, Anonymous is a group you can’t join, except by hanging out for a long time in the internet’s most juvenile corners — usually one of the image boards where everyone posts anonymously. 4chan’s /b/ board — or random — seems to be the main hangout, though other chans and IR channels seem to serve as adjunct clubhouses as well. The hangouts have almost no rules —  though using some variation of the terms fag, nigger and jew seems mandatory in every post.

The self-identified Palin-email burglar who uses the online handle Rubico said he got the idea while hanging out at 4chan — specifically its random or /b/ board (NSFW).

After watching others on the board temporarily lock up the e-mail account by trying primitive ways to break in, Rubico decided to call on the power of Google. With a combination of answers found through searches and an educated guess, Rubico was able to reset the account’s password.

Though Fox News famously and hilariously called Anonymous “hackers on steriods,” in large part they have little skill besides knowing how to use a web proxy to mask their IP addresses.

Instead, Anonymous keyboard miscreants combine online Fight Club-like bravado, inside jokes documented only on the world’s stupidest wiki, and harassment tactics that sound funny in theory but in practice are streaked with cruelty. The point? Fun at other people’s expense — otherwise known as Lulz.

The basic repertoire? Prank phone calls, ordering pizzas to someone’s house, flooding a message board with obscene ASCII art. Advanced techniques include finding a way into someone’s MySpace account in order to send messages to their friends saying they are gay.

What are Anonymous’ greatest or worst hits?

The Epilepsy Attack — In March, a group of internet griefers flooded an epilepsy message board with flashing images that caused migraine headaches and seizures in some users. While it’s not certain whether it was properly the work of Anonymous, the assault was rumored to have started on a thread at 7chan.org — another Anonymous hang out — and much was blamed on eBaumsworld, an online site often derided by Anonymous.

The FBI is reportedly investigating what may be the first computer attack that physically harmed people.

The Scientology War — In January, Anonymous decided to take on a real target — the Church of Scientology — which its members considered to be an overly litigious cult. Soon, anonymous pranksters were ordering pizzas to Scientology offices, using denial-of-service attacks to scuttle its web servers and posting previously unseen secret Scientology documents.

They also briefly pointed denial-of-service attack tools at the wrong IP address — which happened to be a Dutch school.

The publicity drew hordes who wanted to participate, and soon many longtime Anonymous users found themselves annoyed with the new converts who thought Anonymous was a crusading organization.

The Habbo Hotel Raid – Anonymous has staged many minor incursions into other people’s online playgrounds, but one of the most storied involved a virtual world known as Habbo — a frequent target for bored Anonymous lurkers interested in ruining other people’s fun.

In 2006, hundreds of Anonymous users showed up using identically dressed avatars: a black man with an Afro in a grey suit. They blocked off the pool to other users, claiming it was infected with AIDS. They also formed swastika-like formations and flooded the site with stupid internet sayings. When users were banned, they claimed it was racist.

The Mitchell Henderson Harassment — The suicide of Mitchell Henderson, a seventh grader, stirred Anonymous, who gleefully decided that Henderson shot himself because he had lost his iPod, a fact he’d noted on his MySpace page. Anonymous grabbed onto a badly written message on an online memorial page for him, and turned the phrase “an hero” into an internet meme.

For more than a year, Anonymous kept up the fun, calling Henderson’s parents, pretending to be his ghost.

The Hal Turner Campaign – In late 2006 and early 2007, Anonymous had much fun with Hal Turner, a small-time white supremacist who ran an online radio show. Anonymous flooded one of his shows with prank calls, which then escalated in mutual internet stupidity.

Anonymous eventually flooded his site with too much traffic for his web host to handle. Turner tried suing the image boards — unsuccessfully — and finally he closed down his show after a hacker managed to unearth correspondence suggesting Turner was an FBI informant.

Web proxy firm working with FBI to trace Palin e-mail hacker September 18, 2008

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IDG, 18 Sept, 2008

The Webmaster of a proxy service called Ctunnel.com, which may have been used by a hacker to illegally access the e-mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is working with law enforcement authorities to track down the person behind the break-in.

Gabriel Ramuglia, the Athens, Ga.-based Webmaster of Ctunnel, said Thursday that URLs in screenshots of Palin’s e-mail — photos were posted online Wednesday on 4chan.org and other sites — suggested that whoever accessed her Yahoo! account had used his proxy service.

Ramuglia said in an interview that he was contacted by FBI officials last night and asked to retain computer logs of the last few days’ activity on his service and make sure nothing is deleted. Ramuglia, who normally stores only a week’s worth of log data, said he would not have deleted anything anyway because of the illegal nature of what had happened.

Ramuglia is now in the process of importing more than 80GB worth of log data into a database for analysis. He said he’s reasonably confident he can help authorities sift through the logs and trace access back to the originating IP address — especially because the self-professed hacker has admitted using just one proxy service to access Palin’s account.

Notorious board user

The alleged hacker said in an online posting that he gained access by simply resetting the password to Palin’s Yahoo! e-mail account using its password recovery service. That’s according to a description of events posted on a blog site run by conservative syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin.

The first-person account was originally posted on a Web site called 4chan.org by a poster identified only as “Rubico.” That post, along with a related thread, was later deleted from that site — but not before a reader of Malkin’s blog apparently snagged a copy of it and sent it along to Malkin. Rubico’s claims could not be verified and security analysts have been skeptical of the claims.

According to the Malkin blog reader, 4chan.org hosts multiple boards, each of which is dedicated to specific subjects. The individual who first broke into Palin’s e-mail account apparently belonged to a group called /b/, which the reader described as the “most notorious” of the boards on 4chan.org.. /b/tards, as its denizens are called, are interested only in their own amusement,” the reader claimed.

Reset the password

Rubico allegedly became interested in Palin’s e-mail after reading media reports of her using a Yahoo! e-mail account and decided to try and access it by resetting her password. “It took seriously 45 mins on wikipedia and google to find the info” needed, Rubico claimed. “Birthday? 15 seconds on wikipedia, zip code? well she had always been from wasilla, and it only has 2 zip codes (thanks online postal service!)”

Rubico said it was harder to find the answer to one of the other questions needed for a password recovery: Where had Palin met her husband? After some digging, Rubico determined that the couple first met at Wasilla High School.

He said he used the information to reset Palin’s password and go through her e-mail to see for anything incriminating that might “derail her campaign.”

It was only after finding nothing that the hacker realized how easily he could be caught, since he had used only one proxy to access the account. So he decided to make access to it available to others on the /b/ board by posting Palin’s recently reset password. Rubico claimed he “then promptly deleted everything, and unplugged my Internet and just sat there in a comatose state.”

However, one of the other members of the bulletin board who Rubico described as a “White knight f..,” saw the thread and used the new password to go back into Palin’s account and reset it. That person then sent an e-mail to a “friend of Palin’s” informing her of the new password and what had happened, Rubico claimed.

Alaska Governor Palin’s email account hacked via social engineering September 18, 2008

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ZDNet, 19 September 2008

Details describing how someone hacked into the Yahoo Mail account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (pictured) emerged on Thursday.

The hack appears to have been accomplished through little more than social engineering, the process of acquiring personal information through social manipulation. The hackers exploited known weaknesses in Yahoo Mail’s password-recovery feature.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that a 20-year-old University of Tennessee student has been contacted in connection to the federal investigation of the break-in.

Since Tuesday, anonymous posters using a forum on the 4chan.org website have been circulating password-protected zip files containing the contents of the now-deleted email account once belonging to Palin. Various posts to the /b/ board have also provided insight into how the hack was carried out.

Like most web account services, Yahoo Mail provides an option to reset or recover one’s user name and password. What is unclear is how the account recovery was rerouted from the alternative email address chosen by Palin to a secondary email address.

One poster said it took only 15 seconds on Wikipedia to answer Yahoo Mail’s prompt for Palin’s birthday.

As regards the prompt for a ZIP code, Wasilla, Alaska, has only two ZIP codes.

However, Palin’s personal security question — ‘Where did you meet your spouse?’ — did slow the process down. The poster claimed it took several tries before they eventually hit upon the correct answer: Wasilla High School.

Webmail accounts are not alone in using online security questions.

In May, Acxiom, a Little Rock, Arkansas-based data-warehouse company, announced it was introducing a biographical authentication service that asks users of online banking and e-commerce sites random questions based on their personal lives, such as “How many fireplaces are in your current residence?”. The answer can be obtained from any US real-estate website.

Anonymous – a threat to society and peace September 2, 2008

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Anonymous is a convenient facade for criminal activity on the Internet and in the real world. Behind that facade are people, some of whom literally, not just figuratively, hide behind masks as they vent their basest impulses while rationalizing that their anonymity frees them from responsibility for their acts.

Documentation for download (PDF)

ALERT: California Cyberbullying Bill May End Up In Political Limbo August 18, 2008

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Ventura County Star, 18 August 2008

In an ironic twist, a bill to help stop cyberbullying in California schools may end up in political limbo because of the governor’s attempt to bully lawmakers into passing a state budget.

The measure by Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, gives educators the authority to suspend or expel bullies who use text messages or the Internet during school, going to or from school or during off-campus school activities, to pick on fellow students.

Assembly Bill 86 is nearing passage in the Legislature. After clearing the Senate on Monday, it headed back to the Assembly — where it already passed easily — in order for lawmakers to consider amendments tacked on in the Senate.

However, a frustrated Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier this month turned up the pressure on lawmakers for their budget inaction by announcing he would veto any bill sent to him. So, once AB86 clears its remaining Assembly hurdle, it will be placed in some sort of legislative netherworld. (read the rest of the article)

Government: Cyberbullying is a New Phenomenon, as is Social Networking August 14, 2008

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Law Blog, 13 August 2008

Last month, when H. Dean Steward, the lawyer for Lori Drew in the MySpace suicide case, filed his three motions to dismiss, he wrote: “If the government’s statutory construction is correct and the [Computer Fraud & Abuse Act] criminalizes violating a website [terms of service], then the statute is void for vagueness because it fails to provide warning of what is prohibited and ensures discriminatory enforcement . . .”

Yesterday, the government, represented by AUSA Mark Krause, shot back, filing three oppositions to the failure to state a claim motion, to the vagueness motion and to the unconstitutional delegation of prosecutorial power motion. (read full article)

Queens Federation of Churches Warns of on-line vandalism of religious sites August 5, 2008

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Worldwide Faith News, 4 August 2008

A group calling itself “Anonymous,” specializing in on-line vandalism, obscenity, and harassment, has
stepped up its attacks on ethnic and religious minorities and individual citizens — and church human rights groups, including the Queens
Federation of Churches, are sounding the alarm.

“These people are truly cyber-terrorists,” said Rev. N. J. L’Heureux, Jr., Executive Director of the Queens Federation of Churches, who serves
as the Moderator of the National Council of Churches Committee on Religious Liberty. “Their manifestos and their campaigns are aimed at
creating as much destruction as possible.”

Among those whose pain Anonymous laughs at, are those who suffer from epilepsy. Wired.com reported that hackers, likely Anonymous, had
descended on an epilepsy support message board and used code and flashing animation to trigger migraine headaches and seizures in some
users. Anonymous responded, “The epilepsy raid was mostly win, but there was one glaring failure, in that nobody died from our attacks.”

When a Finnish Anonymous poster named Pekka-Eric Auvinen said online that he was going to kill people at his high school, another Anonymous
member wrote, “DO IT, FAGGOT.” On November 7, 2007, Auvinen killed nine people including himself.

Most recently, June 27, 2008, as reported by MTV News, Anonymous hackers defaced two popular Hip-Hop music websites, substituting fake headlines
and obviously photoshopped pictures saturated with racial slurs and other offensive terms. The CEO of SOHH.com, one of the attacked sites,
issued a statement saying, “It appears that hackers are specifically targeting Black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish youth who ascribe to hip-hop
culture.”

The New York Times Magazine (August 3, 2008) focused on “The Trolls Among Us,” examining Internet message boards which have spawned groups
such as “Anonymous.”

In 2007, Fox News documented some of the crimes of Anonymous: destroying websites, death threats and spreading lies about people’s lives.

Anonymous posted their response on YouTube with a creepy synthetic voice-over: “We are the face of chaos and the harbingers of judgment. We
laugh in the face of tragedy. We’ll mock those who are in pain. We rush the lives of other people simply because we can. Hundred die in a plane
crash. We laugh. The nation mourns over a school shooting, we laugh. We’re the embodiment of humanity with no remorse, no caring, no love, or
no sense of morality.”

Meeting in Los Angeles on May 6th, a group of more than 100 law enforcement and government officials, clergy and educators discussed the
rise of Internet hate crimes, with the activities like Anonymous featuring prominently.

“Anonymous has even called themselves ‘Legion,’ a reference to the demons cast out by Christ in Marc 5:9 and Luke 8:30,” says L’Heureux.
“People of all faiths, working with law enforcement as necessary, should see that this sort of cyber-crime is cast out of the Internet, and the
real world, both.”

The Trolls Among Us August 4, 2008

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New York Times on the character of “Internet trolls” or better: those behind cyber-crimes:

One afternoon in the spring of 2006, for reasons unknown to those who knew him, Mitchell Henderson, a seventh grader from Rochester, Minn., took a .22-caliber rifle down from a shelf in his parents’ bedroom closet and shot himself in the head. The next morning, Mitchell’s school assembled in the gym to begin mourning. His classmates created a virtual memorial on MySpace and garlanded it with remembrances. One wrote that Mitchell was “an hero to take that shot, to leave us all behind. God do we wish we could take it back. . . . ” Someone e-mailed a clipping of Mitchell’s newspaper obituary to MyDeathSpace.com, a Web site that links to the MySpace pages of the dead. From MyDeathSpace, Mitchell’s page came to the attention of an Internet message board known as /b/ and the “trolls,” as they have come to be called, who dwell there. (go to the remainder of the 10 page article)