When that happens, then what? MySpace doesn’t post an official policy on the disposition of users’ profiles after they aren’t around to access it anymore. Sometimes a family gets the password and takes over a person’s profile as a memorial. Parents also have the option of canceling their child’s account if they have access to the email address where it’s registered. And although the site isn’t inclined to do so in the event of death, MySpace administrators reserve the right to “terminate your Membership at any time, without warning.” That’s evidently what happened to the page of Jacob Robida, the high-school dropout who entered New Bedford’s Puzzles Lounge in February and attacked unsuspecting patrons with a pistol and a hatchet.
In the days following the Puzzles Lounge attack, Robida’s MySpace profile was splashed all over the news; consequently, his friends’ inboxes were inundated with messages. Ryan A., who was prominently featured in Robida’s “Top 8” friends, estimates that he received about 1000 messages. “I got tons of hate mail from ignorant-ass people. I also got some people who tried to make me feel better. For most of them it was a simple ‘fuck you’ because they were saying I should die and shit like that.” He was relieved when Robida’s profile suddenly vanished. “It made a lot of hassles go away.”
Not only had Robida last logged in the day before the early-morning rampage — making the site seem like a fresh fingerprint — but in an Insane Clown Posse “Are You a Juggalo?” questionnaire posted on the page, the standardized quiz had determined that Robida’s murder weapon of choice would be a hatchet. He also listed his favorite color as “crimson red,” displayed photos of himself pointing a gun, made reference to Nazism, and said he’d like to meet “serial killers, murderers.”
Also creepy was the fatal forecast at the top of Robida’s page: the results of an online novelty quiz called “How Will You Die??” There was a 100 percent chance that Robida would die through a mysterious disappearance. Separately, there was a 93 percent chance that a gunshot wound would slay the 18-year-old, a 67 percent chance that he’d commit suicide. Typically, the soothsaying truths of Web quizzes fall somewhere between personality tests and Magic 8 Balls, but this particular application turned out to be oddly prophetic: his death was all of the above.
Jacob Robida is Murderer #9 on MyDeathSpace, a LiveJournal community that compulsively catalogues links to MySpace profiles of dead people and murderers. As of March 15, LJ forum users had compiled 203 deaths, 31 suicides, and 17 murderers, with relevant news clippings and links to their individual MySpace profiles. Death #161 is Germain V., a 20-year-old aspiring social worker who fell off a grain elevator. Death #178 is Cheryl K., a 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student who got drunk and drowned in the tub. Death #203 is Miss Deaf Texas, a Massachusetts-born beauty queen who was hit by a train while sending a text message. Death #199 is Jessica A., a 19-year-old from Slickville, Pennsylvania, who was suffocated and subjected to “blunt force injury to the head” by her boyfriend Dave S. (Murderer #17). On March 1, 2006, “Maggie” writes to Jessie on her page: “Jessie, we didnt know each other very well. but i did talk to u a few times back in highschool ... just know that alot of people are thinking about u right now . . . hey they have myspace in heaven right?”