A couple of days ago, a Filipino TV show actor-director was stabbed ten times by someone he had met on Facebook and invited to sleep in his home. Ricardo “Ricky” Rivero, 39 years old, was allegedly stabbed by Hans Ivan Ruiz, 22, whom Rivero met over Facebook five months ago. Ruiz denies stabbing Rivero but a report from responding police say that when they arrived at the scene, they saw Ruiz clutching the actor-director’s bag, which contained a laptop, two cell phones and several personal items.
Usually, those accused of a crime will deny committing it, but what is strange about Ruiz’s denial are the details. Here is an excerpt from a news report.
Ruiz maintained that he had no clue as to how Rivero sustained the stab wounds but said that it happened while he slept beside the actor-director. “We were sleeping when he started yelling, ‘Don’t stab me!’” he said.
Ruiz said that he saw a knife beside Rivero but did not know where it came from. “He thought I was the one who hurt him. I also thought he was going to kill me so we struggled over the knife,” he added.
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In his statement, Ruiz said that he offered to take the actor-director to the hospital, although police said Rivero drove himself to the hospital.
Now before people in mainstream news media over react and start pointing at Facebook as an inherently dangerous site to visit, here are some things to consider.
On the surface of it, it seems Facebook use was merely incidental to the commission of this crime. The TV director might as well have met his alleged attacker through any other social networking site and invited him over to his house where the crime was committed. (Facebook would perhaps be more central if it involves swindling people out of their money and other types of fraud, certain types of coercion, identity theft, libel, and other such crimes.)
As to the idea of whether Facebook can become an enabler and hunting ground for criminal psychopaths, the idea is a bit trickier to prove. I think even for a trained psychologist, it’s really difficult to say just on the basis of a news report whether psychopathic behavior had anything to do with the stabbing of the TV director by his Facebook friend. Even given the fact that the newspaper account describes a number of characteristics of psychopathic personality and behavior, no real assessment can be made until the suspect is given proper evaluation.
According to a high ranking Google search result, Oregon Counselling, psychopathic behavior is described:
They need relationships, but see people as obstacles to overcome and be eliminated. If not, they see people in terms of how they can be used. They use people for stimulation, to build their self-esteem and they invariably value people in terms of their material value (money, property, etc..).
A psychopath can have high verbal intelligence, but they typically lack “emotional intelligence”. They can be expert in manipulating others by playing to their emotions. There is a shallow quality to the emotional aspect of their stories (i.e., how they felt, why they felt that way, or how others may have felt and why). The lack of emotional intelligence is the first good sign you may be dealing with a psychopath. A history of criminal behavior in which they do not seem to learn from their experience, but merely think about ways to not get caught is the second best sign.
The following is a list of items based on the research of Robert Hare, Ph.D. which is derived from the “The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, .1991, Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.” These are the most highly researched and recognized characteristics of psychopathic personality and behavior.
Glibness/superficial charm; grandiose sense of self worth; need for stimulation/prone to boredom; pathological lying; conning/manipulative; lack of remorse or guilt; shallow emotional response; callous/lack of empathy; parasitic lifestyle; poor behavioral controls; promiscuous sexual behavior; early behavioral problems; lack of realistic long term goals; impulsiveness; irresponsibility; failure to accept responsibility for their own actions; many short term relationships; juvenile delinquency; revocation of conditional release; and criminal versatility
The fact that the suspect Ruiz, minutes after he was arrested, issued his denials in the face of what would seem like overwhelming evidence against him doesn’t really count for much in terms of an actual psychological evaluation.
However, as a matter of caution, it is always best to assume and treat people whom you meet just on Facebook as strangers. Being devoid of any reliable means of verifying the credentials that users present, Facebook poses as much risk as any website that offers the ability to make social connections.
The best advise so far that I’ve come across is to never give out personal information on Facebook that could harm you and never to invite people you’ve met just on Facebook to your home.
Paul Farol is a Filipino writer and blogger currently based in Manila. He is currently a media practitioner and is involved in community development projects in Northern and Southern Luzon, Philippines.