Flemish man faces online abuse after being (wrongly) identified as cyclist from viral video
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    Flemish man faces online abuse after being (wrongly) identified as cyclist from viral video

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    A Flemish man has been the target of online abuse after he was mistakenly identified as the cyclist in a now-viral video. 

    Carl Maegerman from Heusden, near Ghent, has been inundated with messages after people identified him as a man who was recorded shouting at a truck driver and refusing to move. 

    Now, less than a week after the video rose to prominence, Maegerman has abandoned his Facebook account, his daughters have been bombarded with messages, and all over a video that he has nothing to do with.

    The Video 

    In the video – recorded by the truck driver – a man on a mountain bike blocks the path of a truck on a narrow road, claiming there is not enough room for him to pass, and leading to a heated exchange between the two. 

    The driver, speaking in English, explains that due to the weight of his truck he can’t go any further to the side because he fears he would get stuck in the softer ground. That explanation does not hold with the cyclist, who adds that he is also a truck driver before continuing to shout at the man in Dutch.

    “You’re going on YouTube. You’re going to be famous. The guy who doesn’t like foreigners, and rides a little girl’s bike,” the driver can be heard saying at the end of the video.

    The video went viral, with a host of parodies, memes and comments directed at the cyclist. At the time of writing, the video had 758,000 views.

    Fake News

    Despite having no part in the incident, Maegerman became the target of blame after he tried to defend the unnamed cyclist online. 

    “I thought it was unfair that that guy was getting so much shit thrown at him that I placed a comment defending that cyclist,” Maegerman told VRT. He thought that people were too quick to judge because only the quarrel between the cyclist and the truck driver was filmed. 

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    That comment led to one Facebook user spotting a resemblance between the two men, and incorrectly naming Maegerman as the cyclist. 

    Since the false identification, Maegerman has received hundreds of messages of abuse and fake friend requests on Facebook. His daughters have also suffered, receiving messages insulting their dad.

    Despite being an ICT teacher – and a fan of social media – it eventually got so bad that Maegerman stopped using Facebook altogether. 

    “I just had to remove everything, because it was unstoppable. Now, I have really experienced what fake news is and what it can bring about. It’s like a fire,” Maegerman added.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times