While most of us resting at our homes, Mark Vincent Garalde, was assaulted, and later was brutally killed in cold blood by a then unidentified man riding in red Hyundai Eon. His murder was recorded via CCTV and was uploaded through Facebook, in an attempt to find the soulless killer that took his life over such an insignificant and trivial thing as a traffic altercation.
We watched, just like many of you, the brutal video that showed his murder, hungering for vengeance, for a way to help the family of Mark to find justice. And just like pinoys in Facebook are wont to do, we shared the crap out of that video, hoping that someone would be able to identify the killer.
In the aftermath of that viral post, the conduction sticker of the alleged Hyundai Eon that was used in the killing surfaced that supposedly linked a man named Nestor Punzalan to the crime. Multiple Facebook groups and pages, as well as respected publication Top Gear Philippines, posted the supposed killer’s identity along with his personal Facebook page.
The problem was that Nestor was innocent – his conduction sticker, which was a digit off of the real killer’s number, was misidentified by wannabe internet sleuths. Of course, the damage has been done – Nestor and his family has been barraged by threats from Facebook users, his personal details revealed (including where he lived and worked) and his reputation ruined.
“Paparatangan nila akong killer? Parang sobrang natrauma po ako… Sa mga message or sa comments nila, medyo parang gusto na rin nila ako patayin which is nakakatakot,” he said in an interview with GMA News Online.
This is the biggest problem we have nowadays with Facebook and internet justice. It is so easy to accuse someone of crimes that you *think* they did, and to make that accusation viral on the internet. We see this all the time in our feeds – people accused of corruption, people accused of adultery, people accused of being promiscous, etc. These posts gain a lot of traction on Facebook and social media because they appeal to our sense of justice and our emotions, and that twisted logic of “If I share this, I’m helping the victims find justice! Buti nga sa inyo!”
Of course, the fact that you *think* you’re helping by simply pushing the share button is also one of the reasons why these posts get the traction that they do, as being a warrior against injustice is easy when you’re sitting behind a desk. But to be brutally honest, you’re probably contributing to the ruin of a man/woman’s reputation simply by sharing a post. Unless you’re personally invested in the person or group in the post, you absolutely have no idea if the accusations are true or not, or if the post is simply one side of a very complicated situation. Real life is not black and white – it’s many layers of grey, and Facebook photos with captions very rarely show both sides of the story. That’s what happened with Nestor, who now have to contend with the accusations of murder even after he went to the NBI to clear his name. Why, do you think that that act will erase all the hatred and vitriol that’s been sent his way? It’s human nature to remember the accusation, not the exonoration. Do you think that everybody who shared the post with the mistaken identity will read about his exonoration? Probably not. No matter how much Top Gear Philippines apologizes to him, or even if Nestor goes to court against them and wins, his life will never be the same. All because people on Facebook with a misplaced sense of justice decided to play judge with a man’s life.