Teenager bites both victim's ears after Facebook spat

Teenager bites both victim's ears after Facebook spat

Summary: 19-year-old Andrew J. MacDonald bit off parts of another teenager's ears after a Facebook fight.


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?

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Collaboration, Health, Legal, Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • Facebook isn't to blame for this

    These two people obviously have severe problems anyway if they brought a fight on Facebook into the real world.

    I think that the prison sentence is quite a bit over the top however. 2 years for something like this? A lot of murderers only get 5!

    No, it should have been at most a month in prison.
    • Well why don't you put him the corner for a time out

      Find out why he does bad things. Maybe give him milk & cookies later.
    • RE: Teenager bites both victim's ears after Facebook spat

      @Lerianis10 :

      Quote: "These two people obviously have severe problems anyway if they brought a fight on Facebook into the real world."

      Internet is real world when you're using real names. A fight on Facebook is no different than an argument through email or the phone or face-to-face.

      Real people, real arguments, no matter the medium.
    • RE: Teenager bites both victim's ears after Facebook spat

      @Lerianis10 Don't degrade this incident just because our judicial system goes too lightly on murderers. Having your ears mauled and chunks bitten off is certainly worth more than a month in prison! That's permanent damage in some cases; especially, if the little prick swallowed the flesh.

      No, leave this punishment at 2 years in prison and raise the stakes on murder considerably.
  • !

    Monica Bellucci said, "Man has progressed at the technological level but not at the level of feelings."
  • RE: Teenager bites both victim's ears after Facebook spat

    If the perp has been sentenced to two years in prison, it's likely he'll get out before that full term has been served, based on his behavior and other things. Anecdotal evidence indicates that very few prisoners serve their full sentences before being released.
  • RE: Teenager bites both victim's ears after Facebook spat

    Let's have all social network messages pass through Eric Holder's office before they are delivered. The Attorney General's office should make the decision as to whether they are "hate messages" and institute prosecution where needed before any crime is committed.
  • Enough with facebook already

    The report should read that a disturbed teenager bit off parts of another teenagers ears, and thats that. Facebook did nothing.

    Should we look at policing our mobile phone networks in case some crazy decides to argue using that and then take things into their own hands? What if it were IM he was using? (and I bet the argument was NOT limited to FB either) And what of the ensuing vocal argument? No less important, and yet the human voice is not blamed.

    Its about time we started punishing these acts like we should and start blaming the animal instead of the environment.

    The only other solution is to tie FB, Twitter etc into the security camera networks and treat the whole thing as a secure arena - but then that would be too Big Brother for most.
  • RE: Teenager bites both victim's ears after Facebook spat

    That is why America needs to re-institute corporal punishment at home and in schools, plus allow for the beating the crap out of people who don't know when to shut up when someone bigger than them gets pissed off.
  • RE: Teenager bites both victim's ears after Facebook spat

    corporal punishment teaches an important lesson early, before it becomes almost impossible to teach it in a 'kind' way. It should be brought back, with regulations for its use of necessary. some crimes would be best punished with public humiliation such as pillory and even flogging. Those are much more to be feared by a 'tough punk' than a few months in jail.