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Amanda Todd was a Canadian teenager who was reported dead in October of 2012. Like other teen suicides, including Amanda Cummings and Mitchell Henderson, her death became the subject of many conversations online about the issue of cyberbullying.
On September 7th, 2012, the 15-year-old Amanda Todd uploaded a video to YouTube titled “My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm,” in which she recounted her experiences of being bullied by current and former classmates using a series of handwritten notes on index cards in similar vein to Jonah Mowry’s “What’s Going On…” video (shown below). As of October 15th, 2012, the video has accumulated over 3.3 million views and 63,500 comments.
In the video, Todd revealed that one year after she flashed her breasts to a man during a BlogTV web video chat, she received a message on Facebook threatening to send screen captures to everyone she knew. During Christmas break that year, the police showed up at her house explaining that the pictures had been sent to many people she knew. After she began to suffer from severe anxiety, depression and panic disorders, she was forced to move to a new town. After moving schools, the pictures were shared with her new friends and classmates on Facebook. She then began cutting herself and had to move to another school. After being attacked by the girlfriend of a boy she was intimate with, she attempted to commit suicide by drinking bleach and recovered after having her stomach pumped at the hospital. After moving to another new school, former classmates continued to harass her on various social media outlets by urging her to kill herself and posting pictures of her drinking bleach. On October 10th, Todd was found dead at her home in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada after hanging herself.
News Media Coverage
The day after Todd hung herself, the Canadian news channel CTV confirmed that her death was caused by suicide. The same day, Gawker published an article titled “Bullied Canadian Teen Commits Suicide After Posting Last-Ditch Cry for Help on YouTube” and The Huffington Post published a post titled “Amanda Todd: Bullied Canadian Teen Commits Suicide After Prolonged Battle Online and in School.” On October 12th, the women’s interest blog Jezebel published an article titled “Will This 15-Year-Old Suicide Victim’s PSA Actually Convince Bullies to Knock it Off?,” which criticized anti-bullying initiatives in public schools as being ineffective and suggested broadcasting Todd’s YouTube video instead. On October 15th, the Internet news site The Daily Dot published an article titled “BlogTV and the Sad Avoidable Path to Amanda Todd’s Suicide,” reporting that teen blackmail was a common practice by criminals known as “cappers” on video sites like BlogTV.
Following the reports of Todd’s death on October 11th, the total volume of tweets containing the hashtags “#RIPAmanda” and “#RIPAmandaTodd” began increasing significantly, according to the Twitter analytics site Topsy (shown below).
On October 11th, Redditor TheSmoove submitted Todd’s YouTube video to the /r/videos subreddit. On October 14th, Redditor Batman5991 submitted a post to the /r/toosoon subreddit titled “Hypocrite Amanda Todd Worshippers", comparing the likes count of Facebook memorial pages for Amanda Todd (452K) and Shanie Gray, a teenager from Texas who was fatally shot in September after being lured by a man posing as a teen on Facebook. Within 24 hours, the post received over 3,400 up votes and 300 comments. Several memorial pages have been created on Facebook, including two “R.I.P. Amanda Todd” pages that have accumulated a combined total of over 910,000 likes as of October 15th, 2012.
Canadian Government Responds
On October 15th, 2012, the Vancouver Sun reported that New Democrat Member of Parliament (MP) Dany Morin, representing the riding of Chicoutimi--Le Fjord, Quebec, called for a national effort to fight cyberbulling and the creation of a House of Commons committee to come up with ways to address the problem.
On October 14th, the Internet news blog Motley News published a post titled “Anonymous Exposes Amanda Todd’s Extortionist | Name: Kody Maxson,” which claimed that Todd’s blackmailer had purportedly been identified by 4chan users. The post linked to a Pastebin page containing Maxon’s personal information, screenshots and several links connecting the username kody1206 to various jailbailt-related websites. On the following day, the arts and culture blog Vice reported on the Pastebin expose in an article titled “A Jailbait Loving Perv Destroyed Amanda Todd’s Life,” which went on to reveal that Anonymous hacked teenager Alex Ramos’ Twitter account after rumors spread that he was responsible for distributing photographs of Todd’s naked body during an autopsy.
By October 17th, Maxson had stated in an interview that he was a friend of Amanda and identified another man who goes by the name “Viper” as the culprit. Meanwhile, Maxson’s lawyer issued a statement revealing that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police cleared his name as a person of no interest regarding Amanda Todd’s death.
However, nearly a month later on November 10th, previously unknown evidence that allegedly connects Maxson to Amanda Todd’s death was published in an episode of The Daily Capper, a web series that covers the exploits and scandals that take place within the sketchy webcam chat community. According to HyperVocal’s summary of the episode, The Daily Capper questioned Maxson’s finger-pointing at “Viper” as the stalker by providing screen shots of chat logs in which the said individual apparently rejects participating in blackmailing, as well as friendly chat conversations between Maxson and “Viper.”
“Viper and Kody worked alongside each other in groups, they trawled rooms together and even shared videos with each other. They continued working with each other till mid-2011. Kody was directly involved with Amanda in December, while he and Viper were still friends who shared videos with each other. Even if what Kody said were true, that would mean he knew Viper was blackmailing her the whole time and he did nothing to stop him because they shared videos with each other for long after. If Viper is the culprit, Kody was likely still involved and assisting him. That’s assuming what Kody says is true.”
The Daily Dot – BlogTV and the Sad, Avoidable Path to Amanda Todd’s Suicide