LOS ANGELES – A MySpace executive testified Friday that the social networking site requires users to agree to service terms that prohibit harassment and inappropriate content.
Jae Sung, a vice president of customer care at MySpace, testified at the trial of a woman accused of sending cruel Internet messages to a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide.
He said the popular site requires users to check a box as part of its effort to create an environment where users feel safe.
"We need to create some of these rules to ensure that," he said.
The testimony came in the case against Lori Drew, a Missouri woman who has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing computers without authorization. Each count carries a potential sentence of five years in prison.
Prosecutors say Drew, 49, her then-13-year-old daughter, Sarah, and Drew's business assistant Ashley Grills, created a MySpace alias in September 2006 to befriend Megan Meier to find out if she was spreading rumors about Sarah.
Both families lived at the time in the St. Louis suburb of Dardenne Prairie. Drew now lives in nearby O'Fallon.
Megan, who was being treated for depression and attention deficit disorder, committed suicide in 2006 after receiving a message saying the world would be better off if she were dead.
The case is believed to be the nation's first cyberbullying trial. Its results could set a legal precedent for dealing with the issue of online harassment.
Defense attorney Dean Steward has reminded jurors that Drew was not facing charges dealing with the suicide.
In other testimony Friday, FBI Special Agent Justin Kemps said files were deleted from Drew's computer on the day Megan committed suicide, but the content of the files remained unclear.
Grills, 20, has testified that Lori Drew knew Megan was suicidal when she sent messages to the teenager. She also told jurors she helped Drew set up the fake MySpace profile of a 16-year-old boy to lure Megan into an online relationship.
Testifying for the prosecution under a grant of immunity, Grills said she sent the last message from the fictitious "Josh Evans" to Megan in October 2006 on the day the girl hanged herself.
When she learned of Megan's death, Grills said Drew told her, "`We could have pushed her overboard because she was suicidal and depressed."'
Grills, who helped Drew with her coupon magazine business, testified that she told Drew they might get in trouble for the scheme, but Drew replied, "It was fine and people do it all the time."
The case is being prosecuted in Los Angeles because MySpace computer servers are based in the area.
Sung said MySpace now has 400 million profiles for users, which makes it difficult to enforce the service rules.