A Malaysian woman found herself at the receiving end of hateful messages and having her Instagram account hacked into after a fake profile bearing her name and image allegedly posted a racist comment on Facebook
In a Facebook post published today, 21 November, Shelyn Lim described her ordeal as a victim of cybercrime and identity theft in addition to clarifying that the fake profile is not associated with her in any way. She wrote:
"A fake post with my picture and my name had been circulating the Internet. It contains highly inflammatory, racist and bigoted words which maligned an entire segment of the society.
The profile happened to show a photo of my face as well as my full name – Suat Ling Lim (sic) – claiming to be me, attaching a recent selfie that I took during the demonstration with Dato Ambiga, a prominent Malaysian lawyer and activist.
I’d like to clarify once again and officially that the particular Facebook account which sparked fury nationwide does not belong to me, nor is associated to me in any way."
While it is not clear where the post originated from, screenshots of the derogatory comment went viral after it was shared on public forums and Facebook pages such as Lowyat.net, My Nation News, and Friends of BN
In just a matter of hours, the fake post was widely shared by other Facebook pages and users as well as on external websites. Fortunately, some of the articles and posts were successfully taken down with some help from Lim's friends.
"A quick search with my name on Facebook gave me a shock; there were over 60,000 results that contains my name. You could say, I was ‘Trending’. At once, I posted a message on my personal account to bring this to light (now deleted by Facebook), with the links to the pages that shared the post. The exposure then was irreversible," she wrote.
"However, the positive thing about this is that so many of you, my friends, including my primary school mates stepped up and publicly defended my name, and took action to report the re-shares, which are unverified (false).
Within 2 hours, the mentioned pages and articles got taken down. It resembled a win of the first battle, big thanks to you all. This, however, was not the end as the fake post is still live in many pages. It had become a serious matter that a police report was necessary as evidence to declare my innocence."
Just when you think it could not get any worse, Lim's Instagram account got hacked, with a new e-mail registered and significant changes made to the account
"I spent hours through the night trying to regain access and thank heavens, I got it back before any evident damages is done," she wrote.
"The fact that my online account was compromised at the same time of this incident goes to show that hate crime is very real, whether or not you know that person, and can bear real consequences."
A police report has been lodged, with investigations underway in regards to the legitimacy and origin of the fake post as well as the portals involved in spreading it
"This incident has deeply affected me, my friends and family as it tarnishes my reputation, spreads hateful and derogatory sentiments and would erode racial relations in this country."
"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," she wrote.
"I hereby urge anyone who has seen or viewed the fake post not to share it as it would cause further damage to my name and reputation."