Almost every other day, we come across posts and messages on social media from worried parents, warning others about prospective child kidnappers – suspicious looking men and women in playgrounds and shopping malls, commonly seen loitering around kids.
The world is indeed getting scarier by the day, and it is only natural for parents to overreact, and feel over protective about their children. Better be safe than sorry?
But what if our assumptions and accusations turned out to be completely wrong? Aren’t we then guilty of maligning a totally innocent person?
This recent case of Facebook shaming is one such example of vigilantism gone all wrong.
Mum accused of child kidnapping in Singapore
It all started on 15 July, when a Facebook user ‘David Voo’ accused a ‘plump lady’ of trying to kidnap a little girl outside iStudio at Compass One, Singapore. Apparently, the lady looked rather disheartened when her “mission failed” and the girl got re-united with her mummy.
He ended his post with a warning to other parents to watch their kids closely, for she was still roaming around the area. To make things clearer, he also posted a picture of the suspicious lady – with an arrow pointing to her!
To be fair, his intentions were probably noble; if only he had bothered to verify facts before putting up the picture online! Things had apparently gone too far, for on July 18, the lady in question ‘Mdm Zhou’, retaliated with a Facebook post of her own.
She wrote, “I am Mdm Zhou – I am the lady that David Voo pointed the arrow to. This incident happened to me at Compass One on 15 Jul 2017 around 2.15pm. The post online accused me of trying to abduct a little girl when I was only trying to help.”
She reveals the truth, “That day I went for facial at level 3 at Compass One…After the facial we went shopping and noticed a little girl alone and crying. I walked towards the little girl, trying to comfort her for about 5 minutes. A few passers by then asked me to bring her to the information counter and I was concerned about her safety, thinking that she could have been lost.”
“As I was about to bring her to the information counter, a Chinese woman I believed to be the toddler’s mother then came out from iStudio and shouted at the toddler by her name. A few passers by then told me that the toddler’s mother was there, and so I brought the toddler back to the mother.”
“My intention was trying to help the helpless little girl to find her mum being a mother I know the anxiety of the mum and child.”
Unfortunately, the damage had been done, so this mum decided to complain to police about it, “David Voo accused me of being an abductor without finding out the truth.”
“This post with my photo and arrow pointing at me had hurt me deeply. My neighbours and friends have approached me to ask me why I could be smeared in such a way, and I decided to lodge a police report.”
“…He has spoilt my reputation. The experience is painful. I want him to remove the post immediately and apologise to me.”
On his part, David Voo has apologised to her for his folly; and has also taken down his Facebook post. He has promised to be “more careful moving forward.”
This incident also serves as a warning for the rest of us, to be careful about what we post on social media. In many cases, the damage cannot be undone, and it’s best that we THINK (Is it True? Is it Hurtful? Is it Illegal? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?) before we post online.
It would be really sad if genuinely kind people got hesitant to help for fear of being misunderstood.