Tuesday, June 03, 2014

"CreepyPasta Slenderman" character seems to inspire a copycat crime by two minor girls in Wisconsin; any legal questions?

There has occurred a troubling case in Wisconsin of minors emulating behavior that they found portrayed in the Internet. 
The website involved is “Creepypasta” (link http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Creepypasta_Wiki ) which facilitates users posting shocking “horror” stories on the Web.  The links on the site give some rather strict rules about quality (proofreading), avoiding unfinished work, and spam, so it seems pretty legitimate, at least to a first-time visitor like me.
But Jason Hanna and Dana Ford of CNN report a case where two twelve year old girls who planned an attack on a fellow student in Waukesha, WI, and stabbed her nineteen times after luring her in a hide-seek game that seemed to be inspired by one of the stories on the site.  They seemed to be trying to please a fictional Internet character on the site named “SlenderMan”. 
The link for the story on CNN is here.
There would seem to be at least the possibility that websites that seem to “inspire” copycat crimes could come under criticism.  It’s not clear that there could be any downstream liability, but that should be looked into.
The girls have been charged as adults for attempted murder. 

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