Missing teen Facebook hoax dupes thousands
Published: 01 Feb 2013 10:42 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Feb 2013 10:42 GMT+01:00
Police have launched an investigation after a faked Facebook message claiming a 17-year-old boy was missing in southern Sweden went viral, causing friends and family to fear for the boy's life.
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"Has anyone seen our Simon?" reads the message posted to Facebook by a seemingly desperate father, Mats Berneblad, on Wednesday.
The message has since been shared on the popular social networking site almost 24,000 times. It details exactly when and where Simon went missing, the clothes he was wearing, together with a picture of the boy.
However, the whole message was a fake, revealed the Nyheter24 news website.
"It feels really terrible, you get scared," Simon confessed to Nyheter24.
"But above all I feel violated, truly violated."
Simon explained that he found out about the Facebook post when a friend contacted him and asked if he was actually gone.
"I was sitting at home, studying. When my friend said that dad had a few thousand shares on Facebook, I knew something was wrong," he said.
"My dad isn't even called Mats."
Despite Simon taking to Facebook himself to announce that he wasn't missing at all, the faked message was already spreading too fast, and soon worried Facebook users began making police reports. His mother even left work after seeing the post herself.
The original poster has since continued the thread on Facebook, at one point worrying that "foreigners" may have taken his son. Late on Thursday night, the Facebook user confirmed that Simon was dead.
"Thanks to everyone who helped us, you're in our hearts," the poster wrote.
While Simon says he doesn't have a clue who might be behind the Facebook account, he suspects it could be someone who has seen his personal YouTube channel.
Simon himself contacted the police, and officers are set to question the 17-year-old soon as part of their investigation into the apparent hoax.
"I hope they get to the bottom of who's behind all this," Simon told Nyheter24.
"The truth is always revealed in the end."