19-year-old Andrew J. MacDonald, who was a teenager at the time, has admitted to biting off a portion of another man's upper right ear and lower left earlobe on November 21, 2009. He then spit them onto the pavement outside of a McDonald's in Weymouth.
MacDonald ended up pleading guilty to two counts of mayhem. It all began on Facebook, and has now resulted in a prison sentence, according to The Boston Channel:
A teenager was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting to biting off parts of another teen's ears after a Facebook fight, Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said Tuesday. Prosecutors said in November 2009, Andrew J. MacDonald, 19, of Hingham, exchanged several angry Facebook messages with another teen, in which each called the other names.
After the Facebook argument, the other teen went to meet a group of friends, of which MacDonald was part of. The two got into a verbal argument, punches were thrown, and then MacDonald grabbed the victim in a bear hug to do the deed.
One of the victim's friends collected the two pieces of ear from the ground and brought him to a local hospital. In addition to the prison sentence, the judge has ordered MacDonald to continue with mental health treatment and to write a letter of apology.
If we put this episode alongside the story where a Facebook dispute resulted in murder, it really doesn't look that bad. Then again, that's not saying much. Is there anything that the social network can do to prevent these incidents?
I seriously don't believe that Facebook is to blame given that these individuals clearly have issues of their own. What I'm wondering is whether the company could take measures to help them before it's too late, without monitoring every single message sent on the website. I guess that could only be possible if the hateful messages were reported by other users, and even then it wouldn't always be clear whether to contact the authorities or not. What are your thoughts?