Tue, Jan 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Woman investigated for sharing a rumor on Line

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A Taoyuan resident surnamed Luo (羅) learned a valuable lesson about sharing information online after posting a rumor about a knife-wielding drug addict.

Luo owns an ice cream shop on the old street in Taoyuan’s Dasi District (大溪) and is a member of a Line chat group for players of the mobile phone game Pokemon Go.

Her mother-in-law, knowing that Luo and her friends sometimes go to a park near the old street to “catch” Pokemon, told her that they should avoid going there at night, because a drug addict with a knife has been spotted in the area.

Luo shared the rumor in the Line group, warning people to avoid going to the park at night in case they run into the drug addict.

Police came to Luo’s shop the next day and asked her where she heard the information, then asked her to come to the police station with her cellphone.

“I was terrified. At first I thought there was some kind of mix-up and I just needed to explain what happened, but the police told me this was a serious matter, because the information had caused panic among some residents,” Luo said, adding that she was told that spreading false information is a criminal offense.

Asked how police could locate her so quickly, Luo said that her member ID is “Ice Cream Shop on the Old Street in Dasi.”

Other group members had shared her post along with her ID and it eventually reached a Taoyuan city councilor, she said.

The councilor then passed the information to the Taoyuan City Government, which instructed Dasi police to increase patrols around the park.

Police needed to track down the source of the information as part of the investigation, she said.

Luo told police that she posted the information to protect her friends and that she did not mean to harm anyone.

However, police told her that she should have verified the authenticity of the information before posting it, adding that no one has reported anything about a knife-wielding man in the park.

Police eventually dismissed her case after determining that she had had good intentions.

“I have learned my lesson. The Internet is a terrible thing and you have no idea how far unverified information could go,” she said.

A similar case was reported in Hsinchu in July last year, in which someone posted on Facebook about a man harassing women at the Star Cinema movie theater. After the message went viral, police investigated and clarified the erroneous information.

Article 305 of the Criminal Code stipulates that a person who threatens to cause injury to the life, body, freedom, reputation or property of another and thereby endangers their safety could be sentenced to up to two years in jail, or a fine.

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