Instagram suspects ‘should’ve known better’

Extra police officers were on hand outside a Gothenburg court on Monday for the start of the trial of two Swedish teen girls charged for their role in operating a "slut-shaming" Instagram account that led students to riot in the city last year.

Instagram suspects 'should've known better'

As the closed-door hearing got underway on Monday morning at the Gothenburg District Court, a number of young people had also turned up outside the courthouse, but no disturbances were reported.

The two suspects, aged 15 and 16, are charged with aggravated defamation for setting up an account on the picture-sharing website Instagram that encouraged other users to publish photographs of “sluts” alongside claims of their sexual activities.

The 15-year-old girl has admitted to setting up the account. However, her 16-year-old accomplice denies having committed any crime in connection with the incident, which left Sweden’s second-largest city on edge for several days in December 2012.

“She doesn’t see that she was at all involved in the whole thing. But she knew what her girlfriend was up to. That’s a pivotal question for the court as to whether she is responsible or not,” the 16-year-old’s lawyer, Claes Östlund, told the TT news agency during a midday break in the proceedings.

According to Östlund, his client has been composed throughout Monday’s hearing, where the first of 45 plaintiffs involved in the case gave testimony about how they were victimized by posts made to the Instagram account, something he compared to a bulletin board.

“People send things in to the bulletin board and then people pass the message along,” he explained.

The girls charged in the case are accused of spreading insulting and inaccurate information which originally came from others who sent the “tips” to the Instragram account.

“The actual defamation comes from people who provided the tips and sent in the information,” said Östlund.

Prior to the lunchtime break, plaintiffs had started to answer questions and tell the court about how they were labeled as “whores”.

One of the victims, a 17-year-old girl, told TT that she was relieved to see the suspects in court and has also found solace in meeting others who had also been defamed via the account.

“At first I was nervous, but now I feel relieved,” she said of speaking in court.

She added that her rage of being bullied online had changed as the trial proceeded.

“Now I just feel sorry for them,” she said of the two suspects.

Another 18-year-old victim remained angry at the two suspects, one of whom she knew personally.

“They should have known that this wasn’t only going to be seen by a few people,” she told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, rejecting the defence that the offending remarks originally came from others.

“They are the ones who asked for ‘tips’,” the 18-year-old added.

TT/The Local/dl

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#MySweden: ‘Älmhult is extremely diverse for being a relatively small city’

The Local's readers take over our Instagram account to introduce each other to towns and neighbourhoods across Sweden. Today, Sikandar Khan from Pakistan talks about life in Älmhult.

#MySweden: 'Älmhult is extremely diverse for being a relatively small city'
Sikandar Khan. Photo: Private
How old are you and what do you normally spend your days doing?
I just turned 28, and my each day is different from another, there is no such thing as a “typical day” for me. Even though my 8-to-5 work day is well scheduled and planned, I do not plan my free time and take each day as it comes.
Some days I like to go for walks and immerse myself in the secluded nature, other days I like to go some place new to hone my photography skills, or just have a cozy evening indoors in front of TV, binge watching Netflix. 
When and why did you move to your neighbourhood?
I moved to Älmhult in March this year after having lived in dynamic Stockholm for around four years. The reason I took this 180 degree turn was because I got an opportunity to work for Ikea, which was a dream come true for me. Although I had my concerns moving to a calm town of less than 20,000 people from the bustling capital of Scandinavia, and initially I missed the big city feels, with time I have started to like my new home. Now when I go to Stockholm or any bigger city, it feels very crowded to me. 
What do you love the most about your neighbourhood?
Älmhult is a very unique city, and with time it has grown on me. It is known because of Ikea, and most people living here are associated to Ikea one way or another. So wherever you go, you see someone you have either seen or interacted with at work, it makes you feel like a part of huge family and everyone is friendly. You get many smiles walking on the streets, which I missed in Stockholm. Apart from that Älmhult is extremely diverse for being a relatively small city, with people from around 40 nationalities living here so you get the international atmosphere that you'd expect in a bigger city. 
What annoys you the most about your neighbourhood?
We do have all the basic amenities here, but sometimes  when I need to go or buy something special, I have to go to Malmö, which is not that big of a deal as there is a direct train going every hour and takes like one and a half hours, but it could be still be annoying as you have to plan your day according to the train timings as they do not run all night long, which is mostly annoying during weekends. 
How should I spend a day in your town?
Even though Älmhult is small, it's not short of activities to do. Start with a hearty breakfast at Ikea store, followed by visiting Ikea Fynd. Every Ikea store has a small section dedicated to bargains called “Fynd” but in Älmhult there is a separate store of its own, just dedicated to Ikea fynd, the only one of its kind in the world. It is definitely worth a visit while you are here. 
There you can step into the history of Ikea by visiting the Ikea museum, spanning three floors. You can spend quite a chunk of your day here by reading Ikea's story, delve into the nostalgia and appreciate the glorious history. Which can then be followed by a meatball lunch at Ikea's museum restaurant. The meatballs are traditionally Swedish with a modern touch. You can also choose between veggie, chicken, meat and salmon. 
Later, if you still have time and energy left, you can go to the lake Möckeln, and enjoy the nature or fancy a swim perhaps? There is also a possibility to hire a canoe and go on a canoe tour. 
I'd totally recommend coming to Älmhult if you're a nature lover and a die-hard fan of Ikea.
What's a fun fact not everyone knows about your neighbourhood?
Did you know what the word Älm means Elm and hult means groove, so Älmhult means groove of Elms. (Elm is a type of a tree).


You can follow Sikandar Khan on Instagram here. Do you want to be The Local's next #MySweden Instagram takeover host? Click HERE to apply.