Kensington Strangler Facebook Hoax Goes National

Yesterday we posted a blog on PhillyNow about how the “Catch the Kensington Strangler, before he catches someone you love” Facebook page falsely accused Triz Jefferies of being a serial killer. That story (via the AP and CBS) has since dominated headlines and even made its way to the Drudge Report, where media man Matt Drudge coupled the headline with one about the DC Metro randomly inspecting bags.

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The AP is reporting printed fliers of Jeffries’ face alongside the police sketch of the suspect have been distributed which included Jeffries’ name, address and photo. And police are saying whoever distributed the fliers could face charges. That flier was the one posted to the Facebook page.

Jeffries found out about the flier and hid at his mother’s house, where people began gathering outside. He called the police, they escorted him to Special Victims, interviewed him and cleared him. But it could have gotten ugly, easily.

The creator of the Facebook page is claiming he/she doesn’t know who posted the photo, and neither do police.

A message was posted by the administrator at about 10 a.m. this morning, reading:

This man was another victim of THE KENSINGTON STRANGLER’ because someone started a text on cell phones with this mans photo on it and then someone posted that picture on this page.

Overnight, since the Facebook story blew up, this fan page now has 8,456 “fans” (about 2,000 more than yesterday) as of the time of this writing and Mayor Nutter has offered a reward for information leading to the arrest.

The larger issue here is how crazy the Kensington strangler is making this city. A scroll through the Facebook page’s comments evidences that. (Like this one):

SOMEONE KNOWS HIM FUCK THE MONEY JUST CATCH THIS SCUMBAG N GET EM OFF DA STREET’S LET ME TELL U SUMTING GET DA FUCKER OF DA STREET’S ASSHOLES

…and this one:

All they wanted to talk about was DONT DO ANYTHING TO THE GUY CALL THE COPS!!! Lmao you damn well no if someone sees him he is gonna be done for!!! I am a crossing guard and if i see him i swear i will get in my car and run him over with out even thinking about it! But the fact of the matter is someone is probably hiding him and EVERY SCUMBAG HAS HIS DAY!!! I dont think it will end well for that piece of shit!!!

While we’re at it, the U.S. Senate is debating net neutrality this week, the first bill of which has been proposed and will be passed by the FCC. At what point does Internet regulation – like the government’s jump into the “sexting” craze – in cases like this become an issue we’ve really got to deal with? Because whether we like it or not, this man’s face will be associated with the Kensington Strangler as long as Google Image Search exists, aka, forever.

So, how much regulation over what’s posted and who in the private sector gets smeared by unregulated websites do we need? The answer is either sensible or could be written in Newspeak.

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