An innocent picture in front of a Star Wars display has led to severe repercussions and even death threats for an Australian man. It has also touched off a discussion about how men are sometimes presumed guilty before being declared innocent.
The 40-something father of three was at Westfield Knox, a shopping center in Melbourne, buying a present for his partner. While he was inside a Target store, he noticed a Star Wars display and decided to take a selfie in front of it. Some kids were nearby, though he only snapped a picture of himself. The kids’ mom actually believed the man was taking pictures of her kids instead.
After initially complaining to mall security about the man, the unidentified woman took to social media to vent her rage. She posted a picture of the man on Facebook, which ended up being shared thousands of times and with him being labeled a pedophile by Facebook users.
The man, who is not being identified by police for safety reasons, first found out about this social media campaign against him when he was in a business meeting. Curious why his phone wouldn’t stop ringing, he finally phoned the person who called him back, only to be told that he was being labeled a pedophile on Facebook and that his picture was already shared thousands of times on social media.
Fearing for his safety, the man promptly went to Melbourne police and explained the situation. The police cleared him of any suspicion after doing a thorough investigation and warned the public not to use social media like the woman did if they had suspicions about anyone. Instead, people are expected to raise concerns with the police in private.
Knox Leader, a local Australian paper, joined the effort by alerting its readers on social media, telling them the man was innocent.
The unfortunate incident also touched off myriad stories from male readers of Knox Leader, who had their own gender-based story of being falsely accused to share.
Above all, this story illustrates how quickly false allegations can spread through social media, and how it’s best for people to be careful with what they post on Facebook and other sites.