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UNSUBSTANTIATED - 'Door-to-Door Salesman Stealing Dogs'

Outline
Viral social media message claims that an unidentified man in an attached photograph is posing as a door-to-door seller in an attempt to identify households with dogs so that the animals can later be stolen and used for dog fighting.

Brief Analysis
The claims in the message are unsubstantiated. The post presents no evidence that the pictured man has done any wrong. I could find no news or police reports the support the claims in the message.  The racist nature of the post further robs it of credibility. Moreover, even if the pictured man has committed a crime, 'trial by Facebook' is counterproductive. Given that there is no evidence that the man is guilty of any criminal activity, both posting and sharing this accusation and the man's image is unethical and unfair.


Example

If this dirty curry scumbag comes knockin on ya door trying to sell ya electricity or gas, his actually sussing ya house out for dogs, he is 1 of the many thieves that steal dogs & use them for fighting!

Share so everyone knows about this scumbag & hopefully he gets locked up! 

door-to-door dog theif rumour



Detailed Analysis
According to a message that is currently circulating on Facebook, users should watch out for a man who is trying to sell electricity or gas services door-to-door. The message claims that the man's real motive is to ascertain which households have dogs so that the dogs can later be stolen and used for dog fighting. It asks that users share the message as a warning to others. The post features an image of the man.


The post does not include any useful details about the pictured man. The location of the alleged incidents is not specified. Nor does the post give any references that might provide more information about the supposed crimes. The picture alone is not enough to give any weight to the accusations.

In short, the post publicly accuses the pictured man of wrongdoing without offering even a shred of evidence to support its claims. And, to make matters worse, the post makes a disgustingly racist reference to the pictured man's ethnicity.  Thus, the warning loses all credibility.

The pictured man may be entirely innocent. Making unsubstantiated and unsupported accusations against a person and posting his or her picture via a public forum such as Facebook is immoral and unfair. Sharing such posts is as equally immoral and unfair.

Furthermore, even if there is actually evidence to support the claims against the man, posting this message is not an ethical or effective way to warn others and is likely to be counterproductive.  Such messages can hinder police investigations and subsequent court proceedings.  In any decent society, people accused of crimes are entitled to a fair trial and should be considered innocent until such time as guilt is proved. Which ever way you look at it, trial by social media is just plain wrong.

And, increasingly, people who post and share false and damaging accusations are finding themselves facing legal action from those accused.

Think twice before posting these types of messages.  Sharing them is immoral, and could get you sued.


Last updated: April 24, 2014
First published: April 24, 2014
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
Unsubstantiated Facebook Rumour - Lance K***** Paedophile Warning
Lord to sue Twitter users who falsely accused him of abuse

© Brett M.Christensen, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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