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Filipina bashed online gets apology

24 November 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

The victim:
Juliet Lindo
An angry Filipina domestic helper who suffered severe bashing on Facebook after her photo with a blotted-out face was used by an online news site to accompany a post about an allegedly bigamous OFW has successfully forced the portal to apologize publicly.

Juliet Lindo, a 34-year-old single mother of two, sent a message early morning on Oct 31 to Manila-based Trending News Portal, demanding a public apology to repair her damaged reputation as a result of the misuse of her photo.

(TNP was identified by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in June as a fake news site, using the Google Chrome plug-in Fakeblok. The extension notifies the user when a fake site appears on their Facebook feed, graying out the post and cautioning against clicking or sharing it).

Within hours of receiving Lindo’s complaint, TNP replied, informing her that the link to the damaging article had been deleted. But by then the story had already been shared repeatedly by other OFWs in Hong Kong who had recognized Lindo from the clothes she was wearing and bashed her, thinking she was the woman referred to in the story.

Lindo was not satisfied with the reply and insisted TNP must make a public apology “to clean up my name… and my reputation as a Helper’s Choice ambassador”.

Her message also carried a veiled threat to seek help from a hard-hitting radio-TV program in Manila.

TNP issued a public apology later that day on its website titled “Apology for the public”.

“TNP would like to issue its sincere apology to Ms Juliet Lindo, an OFW in Hong Kong  whose photo appeared in a preview of this article. We have deleted her blurred photo which we acquired from the Internet. We would like to clarify that she is in no way connected with this case. We do not have any intention to damage her image in any way. We are sincerely apologizing for those who are further affected by the misuse of her photo.”

The controversy was sparked by TNP posting a rehashed news report about a Filipina maid who pleaded guilty in a Hong Kong court to a charge of “signing a false notice for the purpose of procuring a marriage” to a local man 22 years ago.

She had claimed she was a widow, but it turned out her original husband was still alive.

Unknown to Lindo, the post carrying her blurred picture had gone viral, garnering 6,400 likes and reactions, 794 comments and 1,000 shares.

Lindo told The SUN that since the recycled report appeared on the portal, she had received more than 500 private messages mostly bashing her for the report.

She learned only about the news when her goddaughter in Dubai sent her a private message early on Oct 31 with a screenshot of the article and asked about its veracity.

The OFW said even her own relatives were embarrassed at the news, thinking that it was she who got into trouble and brought shame to her family. She said she was thankful her two children are smart not to believe the story, and kept telling her to be strong.

Lindo said she parted ways with her husband 10 years ago and had since supported her son, 15, and daughter, 14, all by herself.

For being an exemplary single mom, she said she was designated as an ambassador by the NGO Helper’s Choice.

She said she is satisfied with TNP’s public apology, but with an admonition.

“Sa TNP, sana i-doublecheck nila ang news before going public because it’s not easy to fix the damage it can do to other people,” Lindo said.

She said she hopes her detractors got personal satisfaction from bashing her, as she thanked those who comforted her during her traumatic experience.

“As long as we know ourselves, we won’t be shaken by those malicious souls,” she said.

Lindo has worked in Hong Kong since 2006 and is about to finish her second contract with her current employer.

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