Hoaxes often play on people’s fears and, for many parents, the worst thing they can imagine is their child being kidnapped. In India, a sudden rise in hoaxes about child kidnapping spread through social media (primarily Whatsapp) has been blamed on several innocent people being killed by mobs in the last few years.
Fortunately nothing like that has happened in Indonesia, but recently a number of false stories about children being kidnapped in various parts of the country have gone viral online. Authorities are now trying to stamp these hoaxes out with clarifications to the public and warning to hoax spreaders.
A statement released today by National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo acknowledged that there were a number of hoax stories about child kidnappings going around on social media, including some with disturbing accusations that the children were taken so that their organs could be harvested. But Dedi said that while these posts might use real photographs, the details included with them are totally false.
“From the results of our investigation into these posts, we can conclude that the photos of both the suspect and the victims in them are real, but they are not in accordance with the facts of the actual incident,” Dedi wrote in the statement as picked up by state news agency Antara.
Dedi gave several examples of these hoaxes, including one showing a beaten man who was allegedly a child kidnapper but was actually somebody caught trying to steal a mobile phone.
Another showed a picture of a child lying in a hospital with his eyes closed along with a caption saying that his eyes had been removed by his kidnapper. In fact, it was a picture of a child who died after experiencing dehydration.
The good folks at Indonesia Hoaxes, who specialize in debunking viral fake news, have been working hard to debunk the many child kidnapping stories going around online.
The post below shows the pictures referenced by Dedi of the supposed kidnapper who was actually a suspected thief allegedly caught trying to steal a cell phone in Palembang last week.
This next post shows links to a video showing a child kidnapper grabbing a young boy off a motorcycle while his mother is shopping. The boy was in fact kidnapped, but the culprit turned out to be the child’s biological father.
The post below shows another hoax referenced by Dedi featuring a graphic photo of a mutilated body, supposedly of a child who had been kidnapped and had their organs harvested. The photo is actually that of a woman who was brutally raped and killed in Riau some time ago.
According to Dedi, the Police Cyber Task Force division is currently investigating the source of these hoaxes with the suspicion that they are being created by an individual or group of people with the goal of sowing fear and paranoia.
Dedi also reminded the public that individuals who spread such fake news can and would be prosecuted under Indonesia’s controversial Law on Electronic Transactions (UU ITE), which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison.
Police yesterday also issued a similar warning to people creating or sharing hoaxes regarding the crash of Lion Air flight JT-610.