Police accidentally spread porn site link in mass SMS

Dutch police sign (Photo: M.Minderhoud/ Wikipedia). ()

The police made an embarrassing mistake when sending a mass SMS on Thursday morning. In the SMS about a house fire in Nieuwleusen, the police accidentally included a link to a pornographic web page instead of to the police website, authorities confirm.

Nearly two thousand people received the SMS in regards to the July 14 fire which left a 22-year-old man dead. In an attempt to canvass for witnesses, the police sent the message to anyone whose phone had registered in the vicinity of the crime scene the morning the fire took place.

However, instead of sending the shortened link, bit.ly/2KncjoH, to their own press release about the incident, police instead distributed a URL missing a few letters, bit.ly/2Kncj. That URL redirects to a forum page on website Chubby Parade, "a respectful community of fun and chubby-loving people with a size-positive attitude," according to the site's description. The forum page linked by police is for readers wanting to view pornographic images shared by one of the site's registered users.

The situation "turned a bit awkward," a police spokesperson acknowledged to AD. The error occurred because the SMS was a few characters too long, and thus the last letters of the original link were dropped. People who clicked on the unintentionally shorter link were first given a warning that a mistake was possible, and were given the opportunity to either opt-out or continue to the porn-peddling page.

"This link leads to a page that we do not support," police said in a statement. "We regret that this was how things developed." Authorities quickly sent out a new SMS blast with the correct link.

Some 1,900 people received the wrong link, a police spokesperson told broadcaster RTV Oost in a radio interview. It was not clear how many people clicked past the warning and wound up on the forum for fetishists. 

Investigators determined that the fatal fire in Nieuwleusen, Overijssel on July 14th was sparked by an arsonist. The victim's 16-year-old brother was arrested last week on suspicion of arson. Anyone with knowledge of the case was asked to contact authorities, specifically people who were in the vicinity of Nieuwleusen between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. on the day of the fire.

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