IT40 News for 10/01/2018

#37 When fake news kills: Lynchings in Mexico are linked to viral child-kidnap rumors

© Flores family/Los Angeles Times/TNS
Ricardo Flores, 21, who was killed by a mob because of a rumor, had hoped to become a lawyer.

ACATLAN DE OSORIO, Mexico - Ricardo Flores' goal was to study hard, become a lawyer and earn enough so that his parents could return from the United States - the destination of multitudes from this impoverished corner of south-central Mexico.

"Ricardo always said that once he was working, he was going to tell my mom to come back, because he missed her so much," recalled his younger brother, Jose Guadalupe Flores, 16.

That dream came to a violent end one afternoon last month after rumors began circulating on social media and the WhatsApp messaging service that a pair of robachicos, or child snatchers, were on the prowl.

An enraged mob attacked Flores, 21, and his uncle, Alberto Flores Morales, 56, beating them before dousing them with gasoline and burning them alive on the street outside the police station here. The pair had been mistakenly suspected of child abduction, authorities said.

"It was like a great spell had overtaken the people," said Lidia Palacios, a handicrafts shopkeeper who witnessed the linchamiento, or lynching, as such mob killings are known in Mexico. "They were yelling, 'Kill them! Kill them!'"

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