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YOU MIGHT NOT BELIEVE IT AT FIRST, but there are thousands of Jason Ivler supporters?if his Facebook fan page proves anything. In less than a week, Ivler?s Facebook page went from 1,016 fans to 10,436 as of press time (the number grows every day, but when his mother, Marlene Aguilar, started granting interviews the other week, the fans tripled in a matter of hours). And no, it isn?t a massive display of irony, because many of these fans are dead serious about defending Ivler, whom they refer to as a kick-ass ?gangsta,? the ?Eminem of the Philippines,? or simply as ?idol.?

Ivler, who allegedly shot dead Renato Ebarle Jr., in a display of road rage last Nov. 18, was recently apprehended by the NBI after a shoot-out in his mother?s house on Jan. 18. Footage of the early morning raid quickly made it to news channels and websites, as transfixed viewers watched the exchange of gunfire between the defiant Ivler and the NBI team. Days after the shoot-out, the Jason Ivler Facebook fan page was born.

Obviously, Ivler himself does not moderate the page. It is unclear who exactly the site administrators are, but Ivler?s fan page simply states in the personal information that he ?loves Grand Theft Auto 4 and the movie Scarface.?

The site administrators also took it upon themselves to speak for the accused, saying ?It used to bother me being portrayed as this bad person, but now I feel that the public understands me better than some writer (sic). There are people who know who I really am, and that?s good enough for me.?

Since last week, the Facebook page has been drawing quite an attention?defenders and detractors alike. Ivler?s page, which some parties had initially dismissed as a sarcastic outlet for detractors, is actually filled with messages of support, encouragement, and sometimes, outright adulation for the 28-year-old.

Others also staunchly defended their ?idol,? pointing out that the trial had not yet begun, and that he was being made to go through an unfair trial by media. ?Never judge the lives of other people, you never know what their journey is about. Team Ivler!? wrote Krystel Anne Alegre, one of the listed fans, on the page.

Nadine Antinew posted, ?How sure are you that those guys who he allegedly killed are innocent? For all we know, parehas lang sila nagkataon lang na mas marunong gumamit ng baril yung isa (they could both be the same, only [Ivler] knew how to work a gun better). Just saying. By judging him, you?re just like us. Filthy, dirty, scumbag. We cant help it, after all, we are all humans.?

While some reasoned out that a fair trial had yet to be held, there were many who simply expressed their blind adulation based on his daring shoot-out with the police, his good looks, and the fact that he had released a rap album in the past. Kam A. Oriendo, for instance, told off detractors by saying: ?Sa mga hater ni Jason Ivler: Manahimik nalang kayo di niyo naman alam ang alamat ni Jason Ivler eh. Wala kayong talent sa rap (To Jason Ivler?s haters: Just shut up, you don?t know anything about his story. You have no talent in rapping).?

A blogger posted, ?You have to admit, not since the Vizconde massacre had there been telegenic criminals [in the Philippines.]?

?It?s the lure of the bad boy,? writer Kinny Amparo said on Facebook. ?The fact that he is mestizo makes it worse. If the guy were dark, fat and acne-studded there would be a mob outside the hospital to snatch and torture him!?

Facebook, Twitter and other Web 2.0 mediums had opened new forms of communication, where people could bravely offer their opinions to strangers as an anonymous web presence, or express their interests in all sorts of mundane activities.

Facebook, for instance, has fan pages and groups dedicated to obscure artists, films, pop culture references, controversies and other random items. While some are serious (?We Condemn The Maguindanao Massacre & Demand Justice For The Victims,? ?Stop Violence Against Women?), there are also some that are admittedly nonsensical (?When I was your age, we had to blow on the video games to make them work,? ?Edward Cullen is a fictional character and he will never love you,? ?I?m always tired because I become a superhero at night?).

Many Facebook pages are put up in the spirit of fun and are not meant to be taken seriously. However, the more controversial ones?such as Ivler?s Facebook site, which is already established as a non-ironic, actual support page?should be given more attention, primarily because of the unethical content that could possibly influence uninformed parties, primarily the youth.

In 2009, Facebook got flak for initially refusing to delete groups/fan pages that supported the Holocaust denial. Spokesperson Barry Schnitzen pointed out that the social networking site was created so ideas?even controversial ones ?could be discussed. However, the groups (?Holocaust: A Series of Lies,? and ?Holocaust is a Holohoax?) were eventually deleted, much to the relief of relatives of victims of the Holocaust.

On a smaller scale, the Internet is also full of sites that support anorexia and bulimia, which are popular among teens wanting to lose weight.

While Ivler?s case is in no way comparable to the Holocaust, and that yes, he is entitled to a fair trial, the principle is the same: His Facebook fan page glorifies the traits that landed him in a gloomy hospital, in the first place. Thing is, the page isn?t even something he started or maintains himself?it?s the work of his ?fans,? who egg on their idol to continue his ?gangsta? ways, or fail to see beyond his Amboy good looks and bad-boy vibe.

Is it an indication of things to come? Hopefully not. Some users, such as Julienne Yee, expressed their indignation over the page content. ?I reported this to Facebook,? she wrote. ?Hopefully, they do something about it. It?s just wrong.?

While the Internet should be kept as a means of free communication and self-expression, should unethical content really be left untouched and accessed by everyone, including the very young and the gullible?

E-mail the author at biancaconsunji@yahoo.com or visit www.twenteensomething.com.