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Facebook page targets innocent 'paedophiles'

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Facebook page targets innocent 'paedophiles'
Swedish school children at play. File photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT
10:06 CET+01:00
Police in Malmö are trying to put a stop to paedophile rumours about a local man with no convictions or suspicions of child abuse, after Facebook users were egged on to beat him to death in the woods.

The police identified a Facebook page where a user said that a local man in the Husie area of Malmö should be captured, driven out to the woods, and beaten to death. While the post has since been removed by the page administrator, police have attempted to quell the rumours. They believe the targeted man is a person in the area with learning disabilities who has never shown any tendencies to paedophilia. 

"We've gone out to the schools to try to stem the rumours," Malmö police officer Magnus Fornell told the regional daily Sydsvenskan. 

The original Facebook page has about one thousand followers. The rabid comments included statements such as "Go get the baseball bats". The rumours about the local man have flourished for over eight months, the police said. 

"We have never received a police report about him," Fornell underlined. The newspaper reported that members of the Facebook page reacted with irritation that the thread with the incitement to kill the man had been removed. A new page popped up in its wake, entitled "we reveal suspected paedophiles, rapists and other info that happens in our neighbourhood" (sic). 

Users on the original page later identified what they said was a second paedophile suspect, and accused the man of having cycled after school children. 

"I understand that parents are worried about their children," Fornell said. "But they're creating hysteria and see mysterious men everywhere". 

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