Virtual-world murder, real-life arrest

It's the first known arrest for the murder of an avatar. Japanese police arrested a 43-year-old woman in southern Japan for murdering the avatar of a 33-year-old man in northern Japan, Fox News reports. Their avatars had been married in MapleStory, a virtual world that has seven Asian editions (Korean, Japanese, Thai, etc.) as well as editions for North America, Europe, and most recently Brazil . She was so angry upon hearing of the avatars' "sudden divorce" that she allegedly used his log-in info, obtained in happier times, to kill his avatar off. "The woman had not plotted any revenge in the real world," a Japanese official told Fox, but was arrested and "jailed [after being transported 620 miles north to Sapporo] on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data." If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000. Teacher Vicki Davis in Atlanta uses this story as an example of how "online behavior has offline consequences" and how technology is not the issue (see "So many schools are punishing the portal, the website, the tool," she writes. "It is not the tool's fault that humans misbehave. That is human nature. Hold the humans accountable who do wrong things in these spaces." I think she's absolutely right but also hope people's take-away on the Japanese story is that the woman was arrested for hacking not murdering an avatar.

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