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May 3, 2023 32 mins

The moral panic over online predators on MySpace was largely overblown, but there was some truth to these concerns. These stories ended up on the nightly news and further stoked people’s fears about who was actually behind MySpace profiles. And one story — the biggest scandal MySpace had faced yet — showed how the use of a fake account could result in circumstances confusing and surreal, and tragic beyond belief.

And it set in motion events that would lead to MySpace’s eventual collapse.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:09):
Originals.

Speaker 2 (00:10):
This is an iHeart original content warning. This episode discusses
cyberbullying and suicide.

Speaker 1 (00:21):
I would always say, Meg, relationships online are not real
relationships because you truly don't know who the other person is. Right,
We can be whoever we want to be. You know,
there was a time where Josh put Meghan's picture on
his profile, like a big picture and said, this is
my girlfriend. And I looked at it and I was like,

(00:41):
whoa Meghan? Tell him to get that picture off of there.
I said, Meg, I don't know this. Something doesn't seem right,
and she was like, what do you mean, Mom.

Speaker 2 (00:53):
I'm Joy McNeil. And this is main accounts the story
of MySpace episode six, Megan's story From the beginning, MySpace
was a social network open to experimentation. People with fake

(01:16):
identities who used it anonymously could participate on MySpace side
by side with users who logged in with their real
names and posted pictures of themselves. But there were a
number of reasons why someone wouldn't have wanted their real
name on MySpace. Valid reasons. Maybe you were a queer

(01:36):
kid in a small town and wanted to be able
to chat on MySpace with other queer people without getting
out it. Or maybe you had a stalker who would
further harass you if they found your MySpace profile. Or
maybe you just wanted to sign up for an account
with the name of one of the replicants and Blade Runner,

(01:57):
like one of the fixers on Friends who did because
it's fun and kind of funny. The fluid nature of
digital identity on my Space made the experience special, but
for a parrot with kids using MySpace, there were real
fears about impostors.

Speaker 3 (02:17):
The story of Megan Meier created a nationwide furre. Just
shy of her fourteenth birthday, she became a member of
MySpace dot com. Megan had a history of attention deficit
disorder and depression, but she was elated when she met
sixteen year old Josh Evans online, a handsome stranger who
showered her with compliment.

Speaker 2 (02:35):
The moral panic over online predators on MySpace was largely overblown,
but there was some truth to these fears. There were abductions,
There were musicians heading on fourteen year old, thirteen year olds,
even eleven year old fans. These stories ended up on

(02:57):
the nightly news and further stoked people's fears about who
was actually behind various MySpace profiles and one story, the
biggest scandal MySpace had faced yet showed how the use
of a fake account could result in circumstances confusing and

(03:18):
surreal and tragic beyond belief. The story of Megan Meyer.

Speaker 1 (03:31):
Megan was from the moment she was born, the kid
that just moved NonStop and was always curious about things,
wanted to know about things. She had this amazing sense
of humor. She could make me laugh till I tears
rolling down my face. It didn't matter if I was
in the store, if I was driving, where I was at.

(03:54):
She was so funny. And you know, she loved scary movies.
She loved music, all kinds of music. She liked all
American reach, she loved bow Wow, she loved Beyonce, She
loved so many different artists back in the day. Hip

(04:17):
hop was definitely one of her biggest things she loved.
She had a kind of a mixture of where she
was very girly girly, but then she also could take
a worm off of a hook, where like I could
never do something like that. Her laughter to me was

(04:37):
like what I missed. One of the biggest things I
miss about her as her laughter.

Speaker 2 (04:41):
Like many young girls in the aughts, Megan loved talking
on the internet. When she discovered MySpace, she instantly wanted
her own accounts.

Speaker 1 (04:53):
When Megan started with wanting to have a MySpace account
was when she was going into eighth grade. And I
was a nervous wreck about it. And I also watched
the news. I watched twenty twenty and how to Catch
a Predator. So, you know, my fear was sexual predators.

(05:14):
On top of the fact that I had a kid
who had struggled for so long with her self esteem
and self worth that I was worried that they could
somebody could say something nice to Megan and you know,
get her to meet them at the mall or go
to the movies. Those are things that I was always

(05:34):
concerned with.

Speaker 2 (05:36):
Megan first set up an account when she was staying
with a friend at a relative's house. They set up
a fake account together.

Speaker 1 (05:45):
It made me realize that they can have access anywhere
like this is really scary, and you know, even putting
her a picture out there not knowing who the other
person was. So I tried explaining to Megan about, you know,
we need to get the shutdown. This is not okay
to put a fake picture out there. I understand that

(06:07):
you finally told them that this is really you, but
that's not the way it's going to work. Megan begged
me to not cut her off from these two boys
that she had talked to. I really had a hard
time because I needed to know that these boys were real.
So I told her I needed their phone numbers, their parents' number,

(06:31):
and I did talk to both of the parents.

Speaker 2 (06:33):
Tina didn't want Meghan using my Space, still, she let
her daughter set up at account.

Speaker 1 (06:40):
I knew Megan. If I didn't, Megan would find a way.
Believe me, she would have found the way.

Speaker 2 (06:48):
Tina set some ground rules. The account was in Meghan's name,
but only Tina knew the password to it. Meghan could
only use MySpace on the shared computer in the living
room and never on a laptop alone in her bedroom.

Speaker 1 (07:04):
And I even purchased this program that was called Watchwright
way back in the day, and it came in a
disc in the mail and it would monitor every instant
message in every website that she visited.

Speaker 2 (07:20):
This meant that Tina monitored every time Megan logged into
my Space. She could see every friend request that Megan
got there was nothing Megan could do on this social
network without Tina's permission.

Speaker 1 (07:35):
She told me that I was a warden of a prison,
that there was no other parent as strict as I was.
That it was pretty embarrassing. And you know, I said,
I get it. I do It's I'm not worried about you,
I'm worried about other people.

Speaker 2 (07:56):
One day, Meghan got a friend request from a teenage
boy named Josh Evans.

Speaker 1 (08:03):
And Meghan looked at me and she's like, Mom, can
I add him? He is so hot? So I said, Meg,
who is he? Is he a friend of a friend
or how do you know him? She goes like, Mom,
I don't know, He's just hot. Please. And I said, Megan,
here's the thing. I will let you out and if
there's anything negative, anything sexual, he is deleted immediately. And

(08:26):
she said, okay, I promise.

Speaker 2 (08:28):
Tina was skeptical, but she let Meghan add Josh as
a friend.

Speaker 1 (08:34):
The reason is is that I knew if I did
not allow her to add somebody, she was going to
do it behind my back. She would have went to
a library, she would have went to a friend's house.
She would have created a fake one again, I wouldn't
know about it because now she would know how to
erase all of her history. And I thought, at least

(08:55):
if I did it this way, I could monitor it
if there's any issues.

Speaker 2 (08:58):
Josh and Meghan got close really fast. He told her
she was beautiful. It meant a lot to Meghan, who
had been insecure about her look since kindergarten. Josh even
put Megan's photo up on his top eight and called
her his girlfriend.

Speaker 1 (09:16):
How do I know you?

Speaker 4 (09:18):
You don't? I just thought you were pretty cute.

Speaker 2 (09:21):
This worried Tina. She reached out to a friend of
Megan's who was good with computers, and asked whether Josh's
photo was real. It was real, the friend said, but
there's something creepy about it, and that really troubled Tina.

Speaker 1 (09:41):
Me being the mom I was. I called the police
and I wanted to know, can I find out if
a MySpace profile is real or not? And they said,
you know, you need to go to call cyber crimes.
So then I called cyber crimes and they had said,
you know, has anybody tried soliciting is there? Or have

(10:05):
you met somebody any of the I said no, it's
just something doesn't feel right. Well, listen, lady, we don't
have enough people there to be able to monitor all
of these accounts because this was so brand new at
the time.

Speaker 2 (10:21):
When Meghan was at school, Tina wrote to Josh on
MySpace using Meghan's account, which only she had the password for,
and she asked him to stop messaging her daughter. Meghan
was furious.

Speaker 1 (10:39):
And she made me promise, Mom, that is embarrassing. Please
don't comment to anything until I'm home. I said, okay,
I will make the deal with you, because again I
was trying to keep this balance between her trust and
her not going and make creating a safe account where

(11:00):
I didn't know, but balancing it. So I said, I
promise I will not open I will not do anything
turn the notifications off that way, it will only be
opened up when you get home.

Speaker 2 (11:14):
After the break, Josh and Meghan continue to grow close,
while the mystery of his identity turns into a threat.
Josh and Meghan continued to exchange messages for several weeks.

Speaker 4 (11:36):
Lucky me and lucky you because you are my number one.

Speaker 2 (11:41):
He was often evasive. Still, Josh was attentive and engaging
when he wrote to Meghan.

Speaker 4 (11:48):
I went to the mall.

Speaker 1 (11:49):
What mall did you go to? Maybe we can meet
and go to the mall or the movies.

Speaker 4 (11:54):
Oh, I don't remember what.

Speaker 2 (11:57):
But then, without warning, Josh's feelings changed.

Speaker 4 (12:06):
I don't know if if I want to be friends
with you anymore, because I've heard that you are not
very nice to your friends.

Speaker 2 (12:12):
Megan asked her mother, what could be going on with Josh.
Tina told her, you know, some people just have bad days.
It was confusing for Meghan, but she seemed to have
brushed Josh's comments off. Plus, Meghan was busy. She had
her fourteenth birthday party coming up.

Speaker 1 (12:35):
The next day, Megan went to school. She was in
a great mood, handed at her invitations. I picked her up.
All of her friends were coming to her birthday party,
and then she asked to sign on to my Space.

Speaker 2 (12:49):
Megan logged into MySpace to find more messages from Josh,
accusing her of being unkind to her friends.

Speaker 4 (12:57):
I heard you're not nice to your friends, and I
don't want to be friends with you anymore.

Speaker 1 (13:02):
Okay, how about no tell me who they are?

Speaker 3 (13:05):
And yeah, so whatever, you know, you ain't too nice yourself.

Speaker 1 (13:09):
Typically I always made sure, she signed off, but it
was raining really hard that day. I had to go
grab her sister and I left. I called Megan two
different times from the orthodonists office. Both times she was crying.
The last time she was sobbing where I couldn't even
understand her, and I said, please get off the MySpace.

(13:31):
I came home, Megan was still sobbing at the computer,
and I said, let me sit down. And I was
tired and frustrated as the mom I had been running
all day. My other daughter was crying because her braces
were tightened. Megan was crying because of this. There was
still dinner, homework, showers, all of that. And when I

(13:52):
sat down and looked at the computer, there were messages
that went from Josh to Megan to Josh.

Speaker 2 (13:59):
Megan was defending herself, but Josha's messages were cruel.

Speaker 4 (14:04):
Fat ass poor The world would be a better off
place without you in it.

Speaker 1 (14:12):
One of her friends called the home phone, and Megan
picked it up and was crying and just said I
have to talk to you later, and she ran upstairs
to her room. I tried looking at a little bit
more of what happened, but I went upstairs into the
kitchen and her dad came downstairs and said, what is

(14:34):
going on? He started cooking dinner, and we were talking
about what was going on, and he didn't like anything
to do with her taking photos, anything on MySpace, anything
to do with any of that. Twenty minutes later, I
just had a horrible feeling that ran through my entire body.

(14:57):
I stopped in mid sentence and ran up to her room.
I opened the door and I found Megan hanging in
her closet. I screamed. Her dad came upstairs. I tried
finding the phone. The weird part of it was is
that as I was trying to dial at her home
phone to nine to one one, my younger daughter, Allison

(15:20):
was calling to see if dinner was ready to come
home because she was across the street. And I was
frantically screaming to hang up the phone, and I had
to run around and find my cell phone to call.
And as I was dialing and calling nine one one ron,
Megan's dad was giving her CPR and Alison ran home.

(15:44):
In the midst of all of it, the Megan was
not breathing. The paramedics arrived. They got Megan's heart started
and got her to start breathing with assistant and there
was a small glimmer of hope of maybe maybe she's

(16:04):
going to make it through.

Speaker 2 (16:10):
Meghan was taken to the children's hospital. She couldn't be revived.

Speaker 1 (16:18):
But going home, I couldn't go back to our house.
We went and stayed at my mom's house. And I
think it was trying to figure out, like how how
does this happen?

Speaker 2 (16:31):
It felt unreal. Tina's grief was overwhelming, and as Tina
began to ruminate on the circumstances leading up to Megan's death,
she kept going back to that one MySpace user, Josh Evans.
He deleted his account the night Meghan took her life.

Speaker 1 (16:52):
And I couldn't figure out, like what happened? I was like,
is it a kid that was scared? Or was it
an adult? And now that the Josh Evans photo was gone,
I sat there for hours throughout the nights. You're out

(17:13):
the day searching, searching, searching for like who was this person?
Where did they go? What happened? And no matter what
I did, I couldn't find anything like it just all disappeared.

Speaker 2 (17:37):
Thanksgiving weekend, the family's first Thanksgiving without Meghan. Tina and
Ron Meyer were set to go to their grief support
group for parents who have lost a child to suicide.
It was just over a month after Megan passed. The
phone rang.

Speaker 1 (17:58):
We got a call from a neighbor that I didn't
know very well saying that she had to talk to
me about Megan's death. And was kind of like taken
back and almost a little bit frustrated, thinking, I really
don't know you. You're calling me in this weekend, I'm
going to a grief support group. I don't know what

(18:18):
to tell you. I don't want to sit there and
listen to you asking questions about Megan's stuff. And then
we got another call, and this call was from a
man that lived in our subdivision who was a counselor
who did talk to Ron and I during these times
and said, Tina, it is really important for you guys

(18:38):
to attend this meeting. Do you have any other you know,
your parents, anybody that can be their support you guys.

Speaker 2 (18:45):
It was confusing, but Tina and Ron knew this neighbor,
assumed he had the best intentions, and went to the
gathering while not entirely sure what it was about. When
the Meyers arrived, they saw acquaintances of theirs sitting in
chairs set up in a circle, and I.

Speaker 1 (19:10):
Walked in and I said, so you're going to tell
me that the Josh Evans account was fake? Is that
what you're going to tell me? And then they told
me that Lori Drew in our subdivision, her daughter created
this fake MySpace account as a hoax to be able

(19:31):
to trick Meghan. I don't know that I want to
be friends with you anymore because I've heard that you're
not very nice to your friends.

Speaker 2 (19:40):
Laurie Drew wasn't even hiding her involvement in setting up
the fake account with her daughter and her daughter's friend.
Laurie told acquaintances that the Josh Evans account had been
a prank to retaliate for Megan. Once calling her daughter names,
she sounded, if not proud, in no way con trite.

(20:03):
Mind you, this is after the suicide thirteen year old Megan.
One of the neighbors found out because her daughter was
in extracurriculars with Lori Drew's daughter. That neighbor knew she
had to do something. Tina had to know.

Speaker 1 (20:21):
The mom kept pressuring Laurie Drew to please come forward
and talk to us. She contacted a church, she contacted
the police department, contacted anybody and everybody and said, this
family needs to know what happened. And this was her
final solution to try to do something so that we knew.

(20:42):
And when we found out, I think there was calls
made to our other family, and I think they were
worried that Ron was going to go down and kill
them because these this family lived four houses down the street.
I think Ron was more in shock, where I was

(21:03):
so angry. All I thought about doing was going and
ripping them apart. That's all I wanted to do. And
when we drove back home, we had family and neighbors
kind of blocking the street so that we could not
go down to the Dreu's house, Lord Drew's house, and
we pulled in the driveway and everybody was hysterical. Our family,

(21:28):
our neighbors, everybody was sobbing, hysterical. Emotions were everywhere everybody.
From one person that would say no, don't go down there,
the other person would completely lose it and want to
go down there. And I tried running down there several
times and was held back.

Speaker 2 (21:48):
The Myers and the Drus had been neighbors. They knew
each other. Tina and Ron were even hiding a food
small table in their garage for the drus so they
could surprise their kids with it at Christmas. Lourie Drew
had gone to Megan's wake and funeral.

Speaker 1 (22:06):
This was also this same woman that when after Megan died,
we went and knocked on their door and told Sarah
because we wanted her to know, to try to make
sure she could be okay. The same family that invited
us to Sarah's birthday party to come down to their
house to sing and have a cake, which was three

(22:28):
days after Megan's birthday, to sit there and watch us
in absolute misery.

Speaker 2 (22:36):
Tina and Ron thought about the foosball table that they
were holding for the jeruze.

Speaker 1 (22:41):
We grabbed it. Sounds ridiculous now, but we grabbed the
foosball table and one of us had a sledgehamer, one
of us had an axe, and we destroyed the foosball table,
put it in the back of Ron's truck. The big
cardboard box. I spray painted Merry Christmas on it. We
drove down the street. We unloaded it all behind their

(23:05):
van and put the box there. Came back home and
Lourie Drew, her husband and Sarah Drew. They sent Sarah
in front of them, walked down the sidewalk with their
hands in the air of what's going on, what's happening?
And they had our neighbors went and told them if

(23:28):
they knew what was good for them, that they would
leave and go home. They sent them. Sarah Drew, the
fourteen year old now to our front door to knock
on our door to talk to us, and Ron told
her to go home, do not come back here again.
Go home. Laurie Drew then called the police department to

(23:52):
file charges against us for destruction of personal property. And
at that time is when Louri Drew told the police department,
the police officer, and the police report why all of
this was happening. That she created a fake account to
gain Megan's confidence to find out if Megan was talking

(24:14):
about her daughter behind her back, and that that is
the sole reason.

Speaker 2 (24:20):
Laurie Drew confessed. But it didn't change the fact that
Meghan was gone and her loss had major repercussions. Losing
Meghan took a toll on Tina and Ron's marriage. They
had been high school sweethearts. The trauma changes relationships, people
don't always grieve the same way. They separated in two

(24:43):
thousand and seven, and in addition to the grief, Tina
felt incredible rage toward the DRUS.

Speaker 1 (24:51):
I would literally go back home and pray at night
to give me the strengths to not go down to
hurt them, because I would see them driving on the streets,
taking their kids to school, acting like life was just
normal again. And when I you know, I don't hide anything.
I am very transparent. There were when I talk about
losing your mind. When I saw them drive down the street.

(25:14):
I would try to run them off the road, like
literally tried to run them off the road everything inside
of me. You could feel normal for a second, and
then I would see them and it would take over me,
this rage of how dare you just go on about
your life when you've done all of this?

Speaker 2 (25:33):
What Laurie Drew did to Megan was beyond Tina's imagination.
It felt like a crime. It had to be a crime,
Tina thought. She reached out to lawyers and spoke with
the FBI.

Speaker 1 (25:50):
The hope was at that time that if there was
not going to be vengeance and they were not going
to feel the pain, then there needed to be justice,
something needed to be done, because I didn't want another
family going through this.

Speaker 2 (26:04):
The FBI got a hold of every message from the
Drew households to the Meyer household. They were treating the
circumstances around Megan's staff seriously, but the investigation went nowhere.

Speaker 1 (26:19):
They felt no one could prosecute it. And I thought,
what are we supposed to do now? And I remember
the one FBI agent who was phenomenal. He said, Tina,
don't give up, don't give up. Get the laws changed.
I thought, okay, great, how do you do that?

Speaker 2 (26:42):
Around this time, Tina got in touch with a journalist
in Saint Louis. He started working on a story about
Megan's death.

Speaker 1 (26:51):
I thought, this finally is going to get Lori Drew's
name out there right, This finally is going to get
everybody to see because in between this time, it's about
a year, there were people that thought that we just
were trying to blame people for Megan's death, like we
were trying to put blame on somebody else, and really
it must have been us. And I wanted to like

(27:11):
clear Megan's name. I wanted people to know, and he
refused or his publisher refused to release Lori's Shrew name.
I was not happy, and I told him how unhappy
it was about it. You know, I get why they
have to do certain things through protection of children, and
I get all of that now, but I was not happy.

(27:32):
But the reality is that one newspaper article that went
out got the attention of a blogger out of state.
The blogger out of state contact at the journalist and
started pushing this out. And all of the things that
I ever wanted to be able to do to the Drews. Everybody,

(27:54):
they all did this. I mean they people that found
out about this and read about it and heard about
it because now it's you know, in newspapers and on blogs.
And that was even before the big viral, you know,
where everything went viral. You know, we had new stations
and national media and all of that were starting to

(28:16):
come about wanting to hear about the story. You know,
back then, when a local news station we called them
about the story, they said, we don't do suicide, especially
on youth. We don't do those stories.

Speaker 2 (28:28):
Megan's death and what happened on MySpace was being discussed
all around the world. Tina was regularly speaking with the media.
One day in January of two thousand and eight, over
a year after Megan passed, Tina got a call from
a reporter.

Speaker 1 (28:50):
And they said, are you aware about the indictment of
Lori Drew? And I said, like what, I have no
clue what you're talking about. They said, well, a federal
grand jury indicted Lori Drew.

Speaker 2 (29:04):
It was the first Tina had heard about the indictment.

Speaker 1 (29:08):
And I said, okay, I don't know anything about it.
So I got off the phone and one of the
producers from the Today Show called and said, Tina, can
you get on a plane in an hour. I'm like,
I am back over at my old house. I am
in the process of cleaning out Megan's room. It was

(29:28):
horribly hard to do. My hair is in a ponytail,
I'm in sweatpants, and you want me to get on
a plane.

Speaker 3 (29:35):
If it did happen to her, then some have said,
you'd have to prosecute a lot of.

Speaker 1 (29:40):
People, because a lot of people create these phony sites
for very It isn't reasons, So is it really fair? Well,
you know what innocent reasons. I don't see any innocent reasons,
and I think that what it would do is. People
would shut them down pretty quickly, and I think it
would be a good statement for people to say, you
know what, this is not okay. Making any type of

(30:01):
a false MySpace account or Facebook account or any account
is not okay. You're you're still defrauding somebody, whether you're
finding out if it's a cheating boyfriend, girlfriend, whether you're
doing it as a joke to play with somebody, any
of those things. To falsify it, you're doing it under
You're doing it in a way that's not truthful, and

(30:21):
it doesn't need to be done. I remember my aunt
when I would be like, I can't do another interview,
I cannot do another TV show, I cannot do this
any more. I'm exhausted. She would say, Tina, what if
there's another Megan out there? What if there's another you
out there.

Speaker 2 (30:38):
Megan would have been thirty years old this year. The
foundation Tina set up in her honor, the Megan Meyer Foundation,
is still going strong. But this was just the beginning
of the media firestorm. There was a trial and Laurie
Drew was eventually acquitted, but what happened next set in
motion events that would lead to My Spaces event will collapse.

(31:02):
More on this in the next episode of Main Accounts.
Thanks for listening to Main Accounts, The Story of MySpace
and iHeart original podcast Main Accounts. The Story of MySpace
is written and hosted by me Joanne McNeil. Editing it's
sound design by Mike Coscarelli and Mary Do Original music

(31:24):
by Elise McCoy, Mixing and mastering by Josh Fisher. Research
and fact checking by Austin Thompson, Jocelyn Sears, and Marissa Brown.
Show logo by Lucy Kintania. Special thanks to Ryan Murdoch,
Grace Views and the head Frasier. Our associate producer is
Lauren Phillip, Our senior producer is Mike Coscarelli, and our

(31:47):
executive producer is Jason English. If you're enjoying the show,
leave us a rating and a review on your favorite
podcast platform Sadly, my MySpace page is no longer around,
but you can find me on Twitter at Joe Mick.
Let us hear your MySpace story and check out my
book Lurking Main Accounts. The Story of MySpace is a

(32:10):
production of iHeart Podcasts.
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