Rieke searches for your cat, Klaus, his bike and a desperate mother her daughter. In the suburb of the VW Bus was observed with the number XYZ, whose driver pensioners offered indecently expensive services, and yesterday this guy was walking around with the eye-catching scar on the nose in place and collected ostensibly for the Red cross and the Private warnings, Search and search calls are digital life at Facebook and co. In the supposedly private space of the virtual social bubble is divided somewhat often. Who doesn’t want to help, and our felt to make such a dangerous world a safer place?

Problematic part is that such calls are not private and often illegal. If people is looking for, it is ultimately a Bolo calls. As the beginning of last week in Münster: parents group, warned in a School-to-WhatsApp-using a photo in front of a supposed “child molester”. What had happened?

The man is said to have addressed prior to a school in münster, the suburb elementary school students. The children told their parents of the incident, the hurried in turn to the school, and the man-to-speech. The 30-year-old asylum seeker who is staying only for a short time in Germany, however, failed to explain or make it understandable. That the man had previously addressed to adults, and what were his motives – all this did not stop the parents from taking pictures of the man and to make a picture with the corresponding comment to the Internet.

“private” searches result in prosecution

“In the WhatsApp group of parents spread his image very quickly,” says Andreas Bode, the police of Münster. Not only connected with the name of a child molester, but also with other offensive Remarks.

then What is it equal to a number of possible criminal offences – and not, for example, in relation to the asylum seekers. Justiciable in this case was the behavior of the parents. Andreas Bode: “We will check, whether there is criminal legal consequences.”

Because of the transmission and defamatory commentary of the photo of the man is in many respects potentially a criminal offence: His personality rights have not been violated, because you’re shooting at someone and publicly in the pillory. For the violation of the right to the own image of the person Concerned to cease and desist and damages could sue for the defamation for insulting. And most of all: manhunt is the duty of the Police – private investigation calls as a Form of self-justice is not allowed.

The case is not uncommon. Police authorities warn regularly about to publish such photos, and calls, in which people suspected, accused, searched, or be defamed. In the extreme case, it may be a criminal offence, as something to “like”. The passing on of it all.

For the police, such “private investigations” in many ways, annoying and problematic. It comes to real offenders, you can have counterproductive effects: they may warn the offender and so regular searches of hindering. Photos or movies are released, they can be under the circumstances before the court not as evidence to be used – to the police you would have been able to be more helpful.

And even if it is really the culprit, could sue these because of the prejudiced “suspicion reporting” in social media and because of the dissemination of personal data to injunction and damages. In German law applies, that of claiming a debt, must also provide proof of the. Up to a condemnation of anyone is also the case as not guilty.

Fake News and right-wing

police authorities and also professional media are all aware of that. You have to go in the normal case in the General Public to be careful with photos, names, and other identity characteristics. Also, the police is hunting, sometimes with the publication of photos and descriptions, but only in special cases audited where appropriate.

Just in social networks is in breach of these principles, however, on a daily basis: Facebook, WhatsApp and co. are, however, not quite free, but at most the right to ignore.

Particularly problematic is when the source situation is unclear. Who really knows whether the allegations are true in a Posting? In case of doubt, you don’t even know where it originally came from and what are the interests and intentions it is published. A part of the “private investigations” in social networks since the years of propaganda put into circulation Fake News – reasons- preferably from the right of the spectrum. And what happens when a in this way, wrongly accused, the damage is dealt?

snapshot in the snow

the police officer Andreas Bode, the Whole is a fundamental thing: investigations are a Police responsibility and not for private people. Bode: “We as police need to us judges to get decisions before we bring something into circulation, and for very good reasons.” If you have a suspicion against someone, you should call the police, instead of playing self-police: “We will do that”.

This happened at the end, even in the case of the asylum seeker in Münster. The was checked on the spot by the police, and does not apply to the authorities as suspicious. Everything the man had in mind was to find someone to take a photo of him. He had raised unsuccessfully in adults, then children. A snapshot in the snow, because he had never seen.


Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.