Who's at fault when internet celebrities become targets of real-life harassment? Are they victims of their own narcissism? What about when they're under the age of consent?
For our cover story this week, New Times looked at what happens to a young girl when she achieves pseudo-fame online. We profiled Loli-chan, a South Florida woman who courted older male attention in the nascent days of the web. At some point in our reporting, though, we noticed Florida is probably the world's capital for those who get burned by the internet. Right in our own state, we have Central Florida MySpace queens, women who become subjects of 4chan raids for using the only-in-Florida insult "jit," and Miami's own internet Lolita.
Lacey Vicich, the provacateur.
In August 2012, Lacey Vicich began taunting members of 4chan's /b/ board by calling them "jits" and providing the URL of her profile on the cam site MyGirlFund.com. Although Vicich probably saw this move as a clever marketing technique, saying "you'll never reveal my true identity" was a huge mistake. 4chan users "doxed" her, or convened in chat rooms to discover and disseminate her personal information. They pulled sexual content from Vicich's cam site and created a URL using her real name to host the material. They also harassed her at work and called in a robbery at her parents' North Port home.
Kiki Kannibal, the MySpace queen.
Kirsten Ostrenga created a MySpace profile when she was 13 and rebranded herself Kiki Kannibal. The Coral Springs resident became a scene fashion icon and began dating Danny Cespedes, an 18-year-old known as Mr. MySpace. After it was discovered that Danny was a serial dater of tween girls, Kiki was booted off MySpace amid a flurry of insults from girls who said she had enabled a rapist. Eventually the ex-boyfriend Cespedes killed himself by jumping off the second story of a shopping mall. Ostrenga moved over to Stickam and became a webcam star there, and later ended up as gossip fodder on the site Stickydrama. Her family was forced to flee Coral Springs due to death threats, and now they live just outside Orlando. The Ostrengas are being sued for the death of Danny Cespedes, and their former house was foreclosed on.
Jessi Slaughter, 4chan meme.
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Jessica Leonhardt became a webcam star at age 11 on Stickam and eventually got caught up in romantic rumors involving crunkcore guitarist Dahvie Vanity. Fans of Vanity's band Blood on the Dance Floor lashed out at Leonhardt, who made tearful videos about the harassment.
Soon, 4chan got hold of the videos. Anonymous users found out Leonhardt's phone number, address, and Twitter handle and planted rumors online that Leonhardt's dad was giving her the dissociative drug PCP. Eventually, the Leonhardts were placed under protection by the Marion County Sheriff's Office, and Jessica's internet privileges were revoked by the court. In August 2011, Jessica posted a final apology video in which she claims she ended up in foster care after stints at several mental institutions. She returned to the internet in 2012 and announced she was changing her name to Damien.
Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti