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May 23rd, 2013

Toledo Man Faces Trial by Facebook

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A man from Toledo, Ohio, has – according to a local newspaper – been the victim of a vicious online attack identifying him as a child rapist.

The Toledo Free Press, a Sunday newspaper in the area, reported the story on how a man by the name of Chad Michael Lesko faced a post showing his picture circulate Facebook asserting that he had raped 3 girls and his own son.

The message that came attached to his photo (below) asserted –

If You See This Man His Name is Michael Chad Lesko, He is Wanted by Toledo Police for 4 Counts of RAPE He Raped 3 Girls and His own son. Please Like and Share and Get the Word out. NO ONE MESS WITH HIM!!!!

Before Facebook finally removed the photo from the site after numerous reports it had accumulated over 26,000 Likes. That’s 26 thousand people willing to circulate a photo identifying a man as a child rapist without verification or any kind of evidence.

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The offending post on Facebook.

Lesko told the Toledo Free Press that the photo resulted in him received death threats. The posts began via a fake Facebook account.

We constantly remind our readers about the importance of being both careful and responsible with what you share on social media sites like Facebook because of the potential real world consequences for yourself and others. And “Trial by Facebook” posts that condemn individuals on Facebook like this are especially dangerous.

In 2010 anyone called Thierry Mairot faced an equally sick hoax on a much grander scale. A rumour that a “deviant” called Thierry Mairot was using Facebook to contact children was spread hundreds of thousands of times by Facebook users, yet the rumour was false and based on nothing whatsoever.

Earlier this year several people in the UK had photos circulate Facebook falsely asserting that they were the James Bulger killers.

Whilst we have a right to protect ourselves and help protect those we care about, especially children, it is still imperative that we avoid circulating such rumours without evidence or verification. Such blind posting can be extremely dangerous and damaging to innocent individuals, especially if – like in this case – such posts condemn others.

We talk about how “Trial by Facebook” posts are dangerous and why they need to become a thing of the past here.

Let us know your thoughts - comment on this story below.


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