Police seek source of fake-news lynch-mob pillory of abusive stepfather

Police today declared that a video and photographs showing a group of vigilantes hoisting a man involved in a child abuse case in the air and firing fireworks rockets at him is fake news, and will be investigated for offences against the Social Order Maintenance Act.

People who posted the video to social media groups claimed that a group had conducted a “human flesh search” to hunt down a 47-year-old man who allegedly beat his 10-year-old stepson because the boy had stolen a classmate’s bottle of goat milk in Miaoli County.

Pictures of the boy with two black eyes swollen shut and a lacerated lip were uploaded to social media, and became major news January 17 in the wake of several high-profile child abuse cases that sparked public outrage and vigilante mob violence in New Taipei City and Tainan City this week.

boy with two black eyes and a lacerated lip
A taxi driver took a picture of a boy with two black eyes and a cut lip and uploaded it to a taxi driver social media group.

After police were alerted to the lynch mob video, which started to circulate January 18, officers contacted the child abuse suspect and confirmed that he had not been subject to violence, and was not the person shown in the video.

Police investigators contacted the moderators of various Facebook groups to alert them to the fake news, and to search for the original source of the misinformation.

Spreading rumors in a way that is sufficient to undermine public order and peace is an offence against Article 63 of the Social Order Maintenance Act, police said, while urging the public to treat online news with caution and a skeptical attitude, and to avoid sharing such information.

a man is hoisted in the air and shot with fireworks rockets

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Sources: United Daily News, China Times, ET Today.

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