Police warn against false Internet posts

By Miranda Shek Source:Global Times Published: 2012-7-9 22:50:10

Baoshan police warned Internet users not to post false messages online after a father wrote a plea on Sina Weibo Monday morning that asked for help finding his missing 3-year-old daughter. The post was forwarded more than 60,000 times in four hours.

The man, Shen Xuerong, said his daughter disappeared from his house in Baoshan district around 8 am. "I am seeking help from microbloggers because my daughter Shen Manjie has been gone for more than three hours," he wrote. "She disappeared near Gongkang Road East and Lingnan Road in Baoshan district. Someone saw a short woman with dyed hair and black clothing take her away."

The post spread quickly around Sina Weibo, which has 300 million registered users. Baoshan district police immediately launched an investigation. However, they soon found that it was actually Shen's wife who had taken the girl after the couple had a fierce argument.

Shen said that he did not lie about his daughter's disappearance. He sent the message because he genuinely believed his daughter had been kidnapped.

"When I woke up around 8 am, I realized that my daughter and my wife were gone and my wife had taken away her belongings," Shen told the Global Times. "I was very worried and my neighbor told me that a woman had taken my daughter."

When asked why he didn't consider that his neighbor might have been describing his wife, Shen just said he was too distracted trying to find his daughter. He denied accusations from microbloggers that he posted the message in order to bully his wife into returning.

"I am an innocent man," he said. "It was irresponsible for my wife to disappear with my daughter over some trivial argument."

Shen did not file a missing person's report, according to a press officer from Baoshan district police. Furthermore, after the argument, Shen's wife told him that she was leaving with their daughter. "We confirmed with Shen's wife that the little girl is safe," the officer said. "We're now asking microblog users to delete their reposts to put an end to this false rumor."

She did not say whether Shen would be arrested for spreading false information online. Spreading false rumors on the Internet usually doesn't result in criminal charges, said Zhang Wei, a lawyer with the Zhiyuan Law Firm. "Usually, the poster won't be punished unless the false message threatens public security," he told the Global Times.

Posted in: Society, Metro Shanghai

blog comments powered by Disqus