Despite arrests being made related to the recent proliferation of fake news stories on social media about child kidnappings in Indonesia, one man in the city of Depok fell victim to the paranoia generated by these stories after being falsely accused of the heinous act.
As reported by Viva, a 45-year-old man, identified by his initials AK, was beaten up and apprehended by a mob who suspected that he had kidnapped a child, footage of which spread on social media. AK was then handed over to the police, despite the mob having zero evidence that he had actually kidnapped anybody.
"[AK] was suspected [by the mob] of carrying something, which turned out to be a cat. But then [the mob] suspected him [of child kidnapping] anyway because maybe they heard stories about kidnapping that have been spreading on social media lately," Depok Police Chief Didik Sugiyarto told reporters today.
The police then questioned AK – who they say appears to be mentally challenged – and soon cleared him of any wrongdoing. The police said the mob turned AK in to authorities simply on the grounds that he was "acting strange".
"We urge the public not to easily share information that's not been verified. Because if the information is false it could lead to disturbances," Didik said.
Police have arrested at least six people so far for sharing hoaxes about child kidnapping on social media, two of whom admitted to the police that they did it "for fun".
Numerous child kidnapping hoaxes have been documented and debunked by officials recently, some of which go so far as to claim that children are being kidnapped so that their organs can be harvested and sold off. Although the stories have been proven false, most use real photos or video that give them a sense of disturbing authenticity.