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Anger over false reports on social media of bodies found near Dungiven

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Councillor Sean McGlinchey

Councillor Sean McGlinchey

Councillor Sean McGlinchey

False reports, which appeared on social media, that two bodies had been found by construction workers on the A6 Dungiven Bypass, have been described as "reckless" by a Sinn Fein councillor for the area.

Sean McGlinchey called for tighter controls on what can be posted on anonymous Facebook pages, concerned at the high level of distress such posts can cause.

The Cop/vosa watch Derry page posted shortly after 6.30pm on Monday evening, stating as fact that two bodies had been found by construction workers near Dungiven and added that PSNI were in the area investigating.

The post was shared over 2,600 times and prompted more than 1,600 comments from people speculating that the workers may have unearthed an ancient burial ground, the site of a massacre of 400 monks or the remains of two forgotten victims of the Troubles.

The initial number of two bodies soon escalated to reports that the remains of 36 people had been located in the passing hours.

Mr McGlinchey, a Causeway Coast and Glens councillor, said he was inundated with calls from local people asking about the grim find.

He said: "I couldn't start to count the number of phone calls I had about this so-called discovery of two bodies and not a grain of truth in it.

"People were very distressed, they genuinely believed it was true and were concerned about who these two people could be, wondering how and when they died and came to be in the Dungiven area.

"It is absolutely reckless that any kind of false rumour can be posted on social media on a site that is deliberately designed to look as if it is the police.

"I think it is time tougher controls were introduced about what can be posted on social media without any kind of verification whatsoever.

"Rumours like this serve no purpose but only cause anxiety and distress. I cannot understand the logic of anyone who would write something like this on social media in the full knowledge it is a pack of lies."

Despite confirmation from local representatives and the PSNI that no bodies were found by construction worker, the post has still not been removed.

A spokesman for the PSNI also rubbished the post saying that while police were aware of the post on social media and had been contacted "numerous times" about it.

He added that after making inquiries including contacting the construction company could confirm there was no substance to it.

Belfast Telegraph