It’s a nightmare of stolen identity on social media that you’ve read about. Practically overnight, someone had stolen this girl’s name and photo to post racially offensive remarks.
‘Suat Ling Lim,’ which is not the name she uses on her own page, became public enemy number one after a picture of her posing with Datuk Ambiga was posted to accompany a comment about how, “Malays are all RED monyet in disguise, please balik jamban.” A direct translation of this is, “Malays are all RED monkeys in disguise, please go back to the toilet bowl.”
Suat Ling’s actual words on her original post were, “Rallying with our champion of human rights advocate, Dato Ambiga #bersih5”.
What should have been an innocent picture taken with a well-known political leader, which should be nothing too eventful at a Bersih rally, had been used against her with disastrous results.
Suat Ling found herself caught in a whirlwind of hate, with her Instagram getting hacked and she has since then lodged a report with the police.
Certain netizens have even pointed out that the fake post had clear signs of photo manipulation. The hashtags #patriotic and #MalaysianBabe were not hyperlinked as of Facebook’s site standards today, and there was neither time-stamp nor location underneath the ‘poster’s’ name.
Unfortunately by the time the news had gotten back to Suat Ling, the picture had been shared on well-known online portals & Facebook groups such as Malaysia Today, My Nation News and even by Raja Petra Kamarudin.
Some of the posts relating to the pictures have since been removed from the aforementioned sites at the time of writing, mostly due to the victim’s efforts in reporting the posts and requesting for them to take it down.
However, the damage has been done, as proven in the screenshot below that Suat Ling has since shared. Her name is now a trending topic of discussion and a common search, but this is definitely not a positive association for her to have.
In a post on her real Facebook wall, Suat Ling shared, “At this stage, the police are carrying out investigations regarding the legitimacy and origins of the fake post, including the portals involved in sharing it. I urge for you all to be aware of the vulnerability when sharing personal photos and views, and also be responsible users of the Internet by not simply sharing and spreading unverified stories.
It can cause irreversible harm to the reputation of an individual concerned, as well as their safety, as seen in many reported cases of assault. And even if you feel as strongly affected as I am, which I appreciate, please refrain from taking matters into your own hands and starting controversy with those who contributed to this ordeal.
I had seconds thoughts of writing this statement that it may bring this issue to the surface again. But as advised by legal professionals, staying silent may embolden further abuse of my photo for nefarious agendas, and therefore, result in the perpetrators achieving their objective of defamation and creating racial tensions.
In sharing this post, I do not wish or hold any bad intentions but to bring awareness and clear/correct any misguided representation of the real me.”
The debacle with Suat Ling highlights the importance of fact-checking posts that we come across online. Not only can these inaccuracies ruin lives, they also skew the political discourse in this country into the lowest common denominator.
It is currently far too easy for ill-intentioned individuals to skew our perspective on important issues with a simple click of a button. Begin verifying posts seen on social media, and become the solution, not the problem.