These days it's hard to control how fast stories can spread across social media — especially those with misinformation. One father found this out after a viral Facebook post wrongly accused him of being a pedophile.
Recently, a man who wishes to remain anonymous took a selfie with a Darth Vader display at a Target here in Australia; he and his kids love Star Wars. When he took the photo, he spoke to some children nearby and told them what he was doing, according to the Knox Leader. That's when the mother of the children saw the interaction, followed the man outside of the store, took a picture of him, and shared on Facebook what she thought had happened — a pedophile inappropriately speaking with her children and taking pictures.
The Facebook post called the man a "creep" and detailed the actions the mother took to protect her children, including alerting the police and security at the store. Until deletion, the story had been shared over 20,000 times. After being told by his friends about the post and photo, the man went to the police and cleared his name — but not before receiving death threats and dealing with repercussions that affected his family and children. The mother, who also wishes to remain anonymous, has since deleted the post and apologised, but is now receiving death threats herself for sparking a mob against the man.
"I think the biggest lesson out of it all is not to post anything that could hurt anybody on media," she told the Knox Leader. She's tried to get in contact with the man and does not know whether or not legal action will be pursued against her yet. "One thousand times over I wish I could take it back," she said.
While social media is a useful tool to spread information, especially about dangerous situations, this story is a reminder of just how powerful it is and how easily it can damage a person's reputation, whether or not the story is true. As the man in the photo said, "People need to get their information from proper news sources rather than rely on drama queens who share things without thought on Facebook."