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Your Facebook Shares Ruined A Man’s Life

Picture definitely related.

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.

Image via Newsgraph

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.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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  1. Top Gear only showed social irresposibility. They should have withheld any information they have and waited confirmation before posting anything. Yan ang problema sa ibang writers ng top gear. HINDI SILA MARUNONG MAG RESEARCH. Nung nabalita ang SUA sa Monterosport, one writer tactlessly said nowhere sa internet makakahanap ka ng video ng SUA sa ibang bansa. Clearly, this writer DON’T KNOW ANYTHING. Nung nag search ako, dami sa youtube. Nabwisit lang ako sa writer na yun. Writing things without bases. Kaya hindi na ako nagbabasa ng mga stories sa Top Gear. Story-telling-a-lie pala dun. You can visit their site and search for the story about Monterosport and SUA.

    Now, this goes to everyone else, before showing or posting something, make sure na tama ang information. Be responsible enough. Look at what happened to Mr. Punzalan. Kakaawa yung tao. Walang kamalay-malay na nadawit sa krimeng hindi nya ginawa. I think Mr. Punzalan should and must file a formal complaint para matuto na ang mga taga Top Gear to search, confirm and validate anything before posting.

    I pray for Mr. Punzalan and wife na malampasan nila ang masamang pangyayaring ‘to.

  2. karamihan na ng website ngayon maingat na dahil sa bagong mga law sa libel at internet. Kaya nga madalas puro direct quote na lng ginagamit at dina nagbibigay ng opinion ang writer kapag sensitive ang topic.

  3. get all the excuses salvaging apologists use then try to apply them here. you will see how hollow they sound

  4. “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. ”

    This talks about how a man’s life can be ruined by mere accusation. What more with your life actually being ended because of an accusaton? I wonder where Carlo Ople (the writer) and those condemning this rush to judgment, stand on the killing of SUSPECTED drug pushers and users….

    1. My stand, sir, on buy-bust operation that killed many users and pushers, I don’t totally agree with it. Everybody deserves the right to due process. Sa akin lang, hindi ako naniniwalang nanlaban ang lahat ng pushers sa buy-bust operation. After 52 years of existence in this world, nagyon ko lang nabalitaang lahat or halos lahat ng buy-bust operation, lumaban ang mga suspects.

    1. when a man’s dignity, reputation and even LIFE is at stake, you dont do something careless. that’s why even drivers involved in ACCIDENTS (honests mistakes, no malice intended) are criminally charged.

      but this post of TG however, borders on criminally reckless. they KNOW they werent sure that it was the correct guy they posted. they DID NOT receive the correct info from the source that is reliable (Hyundai in this regard) and they KNEW IT (they got it from some “inside source”). the only reason why they went ahead and posted potentially incorrect info is to REAP LIKES AND SHARES and generally be talked about.
      now people are talking about them, for the wrong reasons

  5. c’mon, his life will never be the same? the public already know the truth, he’ll be okay. You think lowly of the public. That was a shocker though, to wake up one day faced with peasants with pitchforks.

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