When the Kerala police on Friday released a sketch of the key suspect in the Jisha rape and murder case, it had an unusual fallout.
Hours after the drawing was put out in public domain, the photograph of a Kerala man, who many thought bore similarities with the sketch, started doing rounds on social media.
The unsuspecting victim was Thaslik Ky, a sales professional in Paravur who has also appeared in small roles in a few movies.
A collage, of the sketch and Thaslik's photo, was created and started circulating on social media.
On Saturday a Facebook page called Changathikoottam published a post asking social media to not blindly share the pictures without verifying them and requested them to be thoughtful.
"A young man's photo is being circulated widely suspecting him in the Jisha murder case. Those who are posting his photo do not have any idea about who the person is. They are doing this just because his picture bears a resemblance to the suspect's sketch released by the police. And others are simply imitating the rest. Instead of publicising the photo, they could have informed the police.
If this boy is not the original culprit, then think about the consequences that he may have to face. People may attack him when he goes out. While chasing likes and comments for your posts, please think about how it can affect someone's life," the post read. (Loosely translated from Malayalam)
Thaslik later shared the post adding, "Please don't hurt anyone like this."
Though Thaslik's friends did inform him about the picture, he did not anticipate such a situation. "When the sketch was released, my friends told me that the face is similar to mine. But I did not know it would create such an issue. I will file a complaint with the cyber cell," he told Manorama online.
A similar case of mistaken identity created and fueled by social media users- in this case Redditors- dates back to the April 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.
Soon after the FBI released the picture of a suspect, the Reddit community linked Sunil Tripathi, a then missing 22-year-old Boston University student, to the incident.
The New York Times reported, "Minutes after the world first saw the suspectsâ€™ photos, a user on Reddit, the online community that is also one of the largest Web sites in the world, posted side-by-side pictures comparing Sunilâ€™s facial features with the face that would later be identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev."
Though Pete Williams of NBC announced that Sunil was not a suspect, the report added, it did not wane speculations a bit with the boy's family receiving "hundreds of threatening and anti-Islamic messages (though they are not Muslim)".
Later that month, Sunil's body was found in the Providence River and Reddit general manager Erik Martin in a blogpost tendered an apology for the "dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties."