A web site that catered to anonymous slander and insults by and about teenagers — and was especially popular in Montgomery County, Md., high schools — was closed down June 8 by its web hosting company, reports the Washington Post. The shutdown came several weeks after the Maryland attorney general’s office began investigating the site, peoplesdirt.com, which has alarmed parents and school officials for months. It created a wave of concern in mid-May when a former student at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md., posted a rambling threat to kill students and staff members. The teen was later arrested. Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said his office approached advertisers and the web hosting company, raising concerns about the nature of the site, which included racial rants, allegations of promiscuity about named high school girls, and scurrilous accusations against named teachers. He said much of what was on the site was protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. Although slander and defamation are not protected by law, the comments were posted anonymously, making it difficult to take action, Gansler said. Nevertheless, the site was closed down after Gansler’s office made the case to the web hosting company that the offensive material contained on the site violated the company’s service agreement…

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