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Facebook Case Has Echoes Of MySpace Suicide Case

•  Recent Cases     updated  2008/09/23 08:40


A dad says someone used a Facebook account to torment his mentally disturbed teen-age daughter, and he wants the social-networking site to release that person's account information so he or she can be held liable.

Fred Beuckman III says his 16-year-old daughter befriended a Jane Doe on Facebook, and that Doe found out that his daughter had a psychiatric condition that included an obsession with a boy. Doe then created a persona called Jennifer Litzinger, who purportedly was a rival for the boy's affections, according to the suit in St. Louis County Court.

Beuckman claims Doe used a photo of an attractive, well-endowed model as her profile picture and told the daughter that she "looked like a troll," that she had a "worthless life" and that Doe and the boy "almost had sex."

His daughter had a severe psychological reaction to these statements, Beuckman says. He says she was admitted to a hospital for four days to get stabilized and was admitted as an in-patient to the Menninger Residential Clinic in Houston, a psychiatric facility.

Beuckman wants Facebook ordered to release Doe's identity and damages for his daughter's care, including transportation to and from Houston.

The case has echoes of another local case involving MySpace, a similar social-networking Internet site. That case made national headlines after Megan Meier, a teen-ager with a history of depression, killed herself after receiving negative messages from a person she thought was a boy on MySpace. The boy turned out to be a neighborhood mom, Lori Drew, who was trying to find out what Meier was saying about her daughter. Drew is on trial for related charges in Los Angeles, where MySpace is based.

Facebook was not named as a defendant in this case; Doe is. Beuckman is represented by Joe Jacobson.



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