Why the family of Ica Policarpio is not entitled to their privacy — according to the rules of social media

The very moment Bea Policarpio issued an appeal for help for her then-“missing” sister Ica Policarpio on Facebook on the 21st December, the whole affair became public domain. For some reason, perhaps with some “help” from well-connected or influential people, or perhaps simply because Ica Policarpio herself appealed to the average Netizen’s itchy Share, Like, or Retweet thumb, the post went massively viral. And with that virality, the plight of the Policarpio family became the plight of millions of Filipinos who clicked, tapped, and, in the process, got onto the bandwagon of empathy for the then-case of the then-missing Ica Policarpio.

It is important to point out that it was this empathy, and not mere curiosity, that likely fuelled the rocketing of the Policarpios to Virality Hall of Fame. At the time, with the context of “EJKs” and drug-related homicide serving as a powerful backdrop, there was genuine fear for Policarpio’s life. There will likely also have been the interest attracted from groups waiting in the shadows to package this case into political collateral — depending on its outcome.

But, like that proverbial guy in the gorilla suit in that famous video being all but invisible to the average viewer even as he walked amidst a group of people passing a basketball around, the underlying circumstances surrounding the disappearance — and subsequent social media explosion — of Ica Policarpio escaped the critical scrutiny of the average “concerned” Netizen.

Now that the cloud of genuine concern had been lifted following the happy ending to this case, the attention of the public naturally turns to the job of taking stock of what really happened. There’s really no need to get judgmental over how people choose to regard this natural coming-to-terms over what just happened. It’s just the law of the social media landscape at work. Curiosity takes over once the blanket of fear is lifted. It’s like how humans became curious about what really lay beyond the horizon once they had overcome their superstitious fear of mythological demons they were told lay in waiting for anyone who dared even speculate.

In the case of the Ica Policarpio case, speculating on what exactly happened when she went “missing” may be a taboo topic in polite company. But to the rabble of adventurous explorers hanging out at the docks who don’t speak the Queen’s English, the mystery will be conquered simply because it is there for the taking.

Welcome to the jungle folks.

Indeed, social media is a double-edged sword as Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is finding out now that this much-hyped tool for “social good” is swinging the other way and cutting her and the “goodness” of her “social news site” down to a pile of rainbow-coloured ribbons. The very social media that supposedly helped the Policarpio family reunite with their “missing” daughter may, itself, have been behind her dropping off the grid to begin with. Nonsensical “online challenges” to, among other things, deliberately “go missing” have been around long enough to warrant attention from the police and other state investigation agencies.

Back in 2015, a Facebook craze wherein teenagers are dared to “disappear without a trace for up to three days without contacting their family” had panicked parents in France and highlighted a raft of dangerous games being played by attention- or validation-starved youngsters.

News of the latest challenge came after a 13-year-old girl from northern France who went missing for three days finally turned up safe and well at her home at the weekend.

The girl, named Emma in the French press, reportedly refused to tell police or her parents where she had been or whom she had been with, but simply said she had taken on a dare through Facebook called ’12, 24, 72′ or ‘Game of 72’, as it is also known.

The game basically involves daring a friend to go missing for a certain amount of time without giving any news to your family and making sure they end up in a real panic.

Did Ica Policarpio play this dangerous and inconsiderate game? One can only speculate. Until the Policarpios come out and explain what really happened, many more ships filled with fortune-seekers will set sail for the horizon and thumb their noses at a supposedly “polite” society who prefer to sit in their ivory towers and spread scary stories of monsters and demons who are waiting beyond their self-defined “zones of decency” ready to devour those who venture out in search of the Truth.

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13 Comments on “Why the family of Ica Policarpio is not entitled to their privacy — according to the rules of social media”

  1. I really think I am losing the plot here. I also read the other article about the same topic. Maybe somebody can find me the meaning of the word HELPING to find someone. For me that means going outside and actively search someone. Did anybody do that? Or was she found accidentally? So how many people actively started a search (and rescue)? For all those others who just clicked and shared: wow, very simple to do. One touch on a keyboard. And that makes you entitled to get some info about how and what? Maybe, just maybe, when you actively searched for the girl, maybe the parents owe you something. (that are 3 ‘maybe”s in one sentence)

    1. Personally, I don’t feel entitled to anything. I’m just saying that’s just the way the world works (the evidence is all around us whether you are an active participant of the circus or a mere disaffected observer). You go public and the public feels like they own you. That is specially true today in a world where social media is the centre of most people’s lives. It’s just the nature of the beast — a beast of our own creation.

  2. The family may not owe anyone an “explanation” but a lot of people are curious because of the mystery surrounding the “disappearance” – unassuming lass innocently steps out of a coffee shop to look for change and then disappears leaving her bag, laptops, and, horrors, even her phone?!? There must have been a criminal or supernatural element at play here. It’s this story they concocted that got many to empathize with their situation. So now that Ica’s been found, people simply want to know what happened – a resultion to the mystery they sold on social media. Call it chismis, curiosity, whatever, people want an ending to the story they were sold. The story is not of “missing girl” and the ending is not “now found.” The story was the mystery surrounding her “disappearance” and what people want to know is the resolution to this mystery. And in the absence of the family providing this resolution, people are going to wonder and speculate for themselves.

  3. The public is only entitled to know about what they were brought into. The Policarpios only asked for help in finding Ica.
    We are entitled to know whether she is still missing or was found because they asked for our help in that matter.

    They didn’t ask us to investigate on the matter; that’s a domain that we barged ourselves into.

    And Jesus, folks. Just be patient. The Policarpios already promised an explanation in due time anyway.

  4. You didn’t even listed down the said rules on your article. Instead, you focus more on the said rules and just quoted our Ms. Ressa on what Social Media is. I don’t know if this is a clickbait article but this is 1) Bullshit and 2) Misleading.

    1. Nope. Those “rules of social media” have been articulated in the article. You’re just too much of a lazy reader and too deficited of comprehensions skills to pick them up. I’m not in the business of spoonfeeding my readers, so if you can’t find them, tough luck.

  5. The social media public was duped, by the Games the Policarpio girls played. The parents, may or may not had been part of this stupid trick, to deceive the public.

    Many girls and boys are missing, but no one cares to alarm the public. The Rappler.com, the YellowTard celebrities went on a full gear, to make this a news of distraction. Amidst the investigation of the Dengvaxia vaccine scandal. Of which Aquino, Garin and other corrupt and incompetent officials are involved.

    The Policarpio story stinks to high heaven !

  6. These people are entitled to their privacy, you do not relinquish that because you make a post on Social Media. GET A CLUE…

  7. The news of a French girl who’d pretended to get disappear by her own because she’d followed a dangerous game from a social media like Facebook or else she’ll face a dire consequence if she didn’t followed it like a threat of a sextortion or cybertheft to her bank account or even worst, murder is somewhat similar to a Japanese anime series that I’d saw it this year called Ousama Game or also known as King’s Game [you’d better watch it!] & it’s really reflect to that series on this kind of incident, and on a commercial break of that anime series, it posted these rules & regulations of the game itself (and I will not tell you the rest of the stories ’cause I don’t want to spoil the series for those who didn’t watch it yet):

    1. Participation is mandatory for all the members of the class [in a real world, all the volunteer(s) of this game is mandatory to participate].
    2. You have 24 hours to carry out the orders written in a texts sent by the King. [in a real world, a volunteer person should carry out the orders posted on Facebook or any social media by an unknown person by how many hours or days to perform the dangerous tasks or games].
    3. If you don’t obey the orders, you will be punished (as what I said on above either a sextortion, cybertheft, murder, etc.).
    4. You cannot dropped out of the King’s Game partway through.

    This is how the technologies and social media could make a dangerous game to the millennials like in the case of a French girl & Ica Policarpio do, and the parents & guardians of their kids should carefully guard & monitor them from this case, and it is happening now. This is a moral lesson to all of us.

  8. Ica Policarpio will turn 18 y.o. in a few months, a grown up. Bea can no longer use the excuse that ica is only a child at 17 y.o. Let ica tell her story.

  9. It’s a highly deceptive world, one that constantly asks you to comment but doesn’t really care what you have to say.

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