Show examines public lynching on Latvian web

A student at the Riga Dome Choir School had money stolen from her at the school lockers -- in itself not something particularly newsworthy.

However, trial by public opinion followed on the Latvian-speaking web, with people of all walks of life including teachers, police, children's rights defenders and others joining the fray against a young woman who had been filmed, allegedly in the act of stealing, reports LTV's Forbidden Method

The social media storm erupted after a person named Toms Apinis published three photos of a young woman, who looks underage, on Facebook. He asked the public to identify the alleged thief who, at the aforementioned school, had taken money out of the wallet that belonged to someone else. 

However, under Latvian law it's forbidden to share information about minors who've become victims of a crime, or witnessed one, or carried out a crime. 

The photos were nevertheless shared by more than 1,000 people, reaching 100,000 people on the Latvian web according to the show's estimates. That is about five percent of the country's population. 

People who shared the photos included the acting head of the Riga Municipal Police Andrejs Aronovs.

"I did not try to delve deep into the situation, as I saw that there's a person in the photo. It looked like a call for help, that's why I shared it," he said. 

One Liene Slaktiņa, a career consultant at the Inspectorate for Protection of Children's Rights, also shared the photos, in her words, to help prevent similar situations from happening again.

It emerged that the money had allegedly been stolen from the original poster's daughter.

While everyone, including the original poster, thought that the young woman in the pictures was a minor, it instead turned out she was of age--a young woman whose deceased father was of Spanish descent and whose mother is Latvian. This means no written laws had been broken.

The alleged thief hadn't been contacted by the police by the time LTV aired the show. 

Broadly speaking, the incident indicates that trends on the Latvian web follow those around the globe. 

Giving a lesson, Forbidden Method published the name, surname and photo of 300 of the people who shared the original post online. 

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