All indications are that the people who taunted Megan Meier to suicide on Myspace are getting plenty of harassment themselves now. Some would call it karma; but breaking more laws doesn’t make things right.
Buried in the comments on a couple of stories, I found perhaps the only legal and ethical way of getting back at the Myspace hoaxers.The catch is that to participate effectively, you have to be a St. Charles County resident. But that’s OK because there are 42,000 households there, and they’re the ones in the most immediate danger anyway.
The hoaxers run a business. They print a coupon flier/magazine that goes out in the area. I won’t print its full name since a Google search on the publication name takes you right to a name and address, but it contains the words "home town."
The idea I found was to take the publication, contact the businesses advertising in it, and tell them that you won’t be doing business with them for as long as they continue to do business with this particular publication, because its owner harassed Megan Meier, contributing to her suicide.
If they ask more questions, you can fill them in on the details–mention it’s been in the St. Charles Journal and on KTVI-TV news. You might even suggest they contact the publisher and ask her what she has to say about it.
If enough local residents start contacting her advertisers, they will start pulling their ads. Some may pull them right away out of a sense of outrage. Others may wait until they start thinking they’re losing more business than they’re gaining by advertising. If they express a fear of losing business, suggest an alternative publication–there appear to be competitors called Value Pages and Flash Flyer. If you’re a St. Charles resident, you’ll probably know more about them than I do.
It doesn’t matter. Tell the person on the other end what you’re doing and why, be polite and civil, and thank him or her for their time and consideration. But above all else, remember that the person on the other end might have no idea. After all, the business has never been named in any of the news accounts.
All it takes is a handful of advertisers canceling to make her feel some hurt. If she bleeds advertisers for a while, one of two things could ultimately happen. She could print a public apology. Or, if she continues to lack remorse and over the course of the next few weeks or months has difficulty keeping enough advertisers to pay the bills, the business could fold.
Even if it doesn’t get that extreme, she may have to take a pay cut, and she’ll probably have to work a little bit harder to try to get replacements for the advertisers she loses, and that has a fringe benefit: She’ll have less time for Myspace.
None of these things will bring Megan Meier back. But they will hold the person most responsible for her death accountable for her actions, no matter what the local authorities or the Meiers might be willing or able to do on their own.
And unlike harassing mail or phone calls or visits, it’s perfectly legal and ethical.
Update: The story aired on CNN, and although CNN didn’t report the name of the other family, they did show the police report. The name of the other family was visible and legible. I was about 90% certain I had the right person. Now I’m 100%.
Don’t waste your time calling the business. Grab your copy of the most recent issue of Home Town Family Savings, and start calling the businesses that advertised in it. Let the advertisers call her and ask her to explain herself.