Quincy, Illinois – Social media posts create instant fame for some, but in the case of John Sinibaldi, one false social media post caused instant danger for his family. John, his wife, and son, who has cerebral palsy, went shopping at Walmart in the family bus. Someone took a picture, posted it on Facebook, claiming that the van belonged to a white supremacist group. From there, John’s family became targets of hate.
Police told him it is extremely hard to prosecute this kind of thing. For John and his family who must live with the consequenes of a false social media post, it’s scary. According to WGEM, police prefer that people contact police when they have a concern rather than just posting to social media. The person who posted the picture apologized to John’s wife, and removed the post.
The False Social Media Post
John told us:
“2020 for us has been a bad year just like everyone else, but our lives took a weird and dangerous turn this week. While sitting at Walmart with our flat black shuttle bus, which is used to transport our family because our son has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, a picture was taken of the driver side of the bus with me sitting in the drivers seat.
While my wife was shopping to get a few things for us, our son and I were just relaxing. Me watching videos on YouTube and talking to him. We had also been at Menards to buy an air conditioner and some other items as well.
Now remember I had no clue that a picture had been taken of the vehicle. My wife comes out of Walmart and puts everything she bought on the bus and we leave Walmart. We had heard rumors of businesses being boarded up because of possible riots in our area.
So we drive down Broadway and see that no other business besides the Walmart we just left had taken any precautions. So we thought nothing more of it as we drove home. This was our son’s first outing since Illinois went on lock down, except for a doctor’s appointment or two.
So we were happy and just talking about life and what all we needed to get done this week along with talking about what parts we need to fix our motorcycle. So we arrive home and some friends were waiting on us and had our garage open (I told them to go over and do this) we no sooner get sat down to talk and have a drink when my phone starts alerting.
Friends from work and others friends asking if we were in town at Walmart. I said yes we were, why what’s up? I was then told that a picture of our bus had been put up on Facebook and with a caption that was totally unbelievable. We had been called white supremacists and or rioters.
We were completely shocked, then other things started coming out like a group of people had headed to Walmart to see what this was about, they missed us by 2 minutes. See I was unaware of any of this because I hadn’t been on Facebook and had not checked my messenger while down there. 2 minutes while an eternity in a situation you are aware of, is like have 2 seconds in a situation you are unaware of.
The situation got out of hand really quickly, and threats had been made in post comments, one of which was saying to throw a bomb in the bus. As this unfolded we became fearful, scared for our lives and even more fearful that something could happen to our son, who cannot talk, walk or defend himself in any way.
This is still going on for us and won’t stop any time soon. We’ve cancelled doctor’s appointments for our son, don’t want to drive the bus anywhere even though we love it and so does our son. I guess my big thing is how quickly social media can damage or possibly take a life. Hatred knows no color and I don’t see color at all. I was raised to respect everyone until that respect is abused or threatened.”
A False Social Media Post has consequences
Even though the person who posted the picture apologized, the damage is done, and removing a social media post doesn’t mean eveything will die down. This family was attacked on social media by people who had no clue what they were doing. It is unknown how many times this post was shared before it was taken down.
A social media post can have permanent consequences, as some of our previous articles have shown. Be wise about what is posted.
Featured photo: screenshot of post