You've probably heard this story. It's been all over the news last night and today. A man that lives in Big lake was victimized on social media and the entire thing could have been handled in a much more responsible way.

A resident of Big Lake noticed a pick up parked in her neighborhood and the driver "appeared to be taking pictures of kids at the bus stop". This resident took it upon themselves to post pictures of the pick up on a community Facebook forum and referred to the person in the truck as a "creeper".

Big Lake police chief Joel Scharf became aware of the Facebook post hours later and by that time the post had been shared numerous times.

The pick up driver in question, a Big Lake resident for 50 years, was actually just confused while trying to find an address. He did the right thing and pulled over to call for directions. The 71 year old guy owned a flip phone and held it up to dial. He wasn't taking pictures.

Police chief Scharf, after the post had been shared for two hours, ran the license of the pick up and it turned out to be owned by a long time, well know resident of Big Lake.

I can see people being concerned for the safety of our children but posting on social media is not the way to handle it.

In a situation like this, according to the police chief  "What should happen, and what the vast majority of our residents do, is when you see suspicious activity in your neighborhood call the police and let them investigate what's taking place" said Scharf.

Scharf talked to the man the next day and the man was understandably upset being called names like "pervert" by members of his community.

"He's still in tears today" said Scharf. "He's 71 and he's lived here for 50 years. This is his hometown and he feels like when he steps out of his home everybody looks at him as what was coined on Facebook, which was the pervert."

From the interviews I watched, this guy just seems like a really nice old guy that surely didn't deserve this. Should he sue the poster?  I'd be tempted. Will he sue?  Like I said, he just seems like a pretty nice guy, so I doubt it.  I definitely think he deserves an apology.

Hopefully, everything can return to normal for this guy.

"Social media is a very powerful thing" said Police Chief Scharf. "I'm really into it and enjoy watching it and working with it. But it can also be very harming and damaging to people too when it's not used in a responsible way."

(KSTP)

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