Note to self: emailing graphic photos of a teenager to anyone is a bad idea, but sending them to his high school is particularly unwise.
4chan's members just can't seem to stay out of the news. While stories occasionally pop up highlighting the good they can do, such as helping people who are broke afford food or helping track down that girl who drowned some puppies in a river, reports of members DOS attacks and harassment of people are pretty common. Case in point, Matthew Riskin Bean, a 20-year-old member of the community, is getting sent to prison for emailing a Philadelphia high school some dirty pictures of one of its students.
So here's what happened: a high school student (who is now 18-years-old) from the Philadelphia area (known only as "Person No. 1") joined an online chat room in 2003 or 2004. During his time with the chat room, he uploaded some graphic photos of himself, including one of his fully erect penis.
According to court documents, Bean came across the photos thanks to comments on 4chan. He then sent the images to Person No. 1's high school, claiming to be a "concerned mother" of another student. In the email, he claimed that "this sort of behavior [should not be] allowed to run rampant."
How Bean was identified isn't clear, though it's known that school officials forwarded his email on to the authorities. When he talked to FBI in an interview back in September 2009, Bean stated that he and other 4chan members tried to identify Person No. 1. This interview also revealed that participants in the 4chan discussion (though not Bean, apparently) expressed the twisted hope that the student would commit suicide.
Bean was originally facing up to five years of jail time for possession and distribution of child pornography, based on the original charges, but he accepted a plea bargain of stalking. This plea included a sentence of 45 days in a federal prison.
Donald Goldberg, who served as Bean's defense attorney, argued that the jail time could do serious harm to his client, who would likely be a target for sexual predators inside the prison. Goldberg claimed that Bean's arrest was a major wake-up call and that his client is a "shy, very vulnerable young man, who is sweet beyond belief."