A spurned Facebook friend request became the center of a family feud that led a Long Island woman to literally drive over her cousin with a minivan.
The driver, Melanie Spanopoulos, actually hit her cousin twice with the vehicle after learning that her relative, Giselle Penagos, had gotten in contact with a man on Facebook who’d denied Melanie’s friend request, according to the New York Post.
Spanopoulos was charged with assault yesterday and released on a $20,000 bail. Penagos had to undergo emergency surgery for a shattered pelvis and broken leg on Monday. An unidentified man rescued her that morning and rushed her to her father’s house in Queens. A local policeman told the Post that if the unnamed good Samaritan hadn’t picked her up she could have gotten hit by another driver. Or she could have died of exposure because the temperature was close to zero.
Spanopoulos learned that Penagos gotten in touch with the guy on Facebook while the two women were driving home from a bar; he’d accepted Penagos’ friend request after denying one from Spanopoulous. She pulled over the van to focus on arguing, and Penagos got out. Peagos refused to get back into the vehicle, and Spanopoulos leapt out of the car and started wrestling with her cousin. Then Spanopoulosgot back into the minivan and ran over her cousin once, put the vehicle in reverse and hit Penagos a second time.
Now Facebook itself didn’t cause this conflict, but rather allowed these two girls to attempt to contact the gentleman when they might not have otherwise. Jealousy really started this family feud, and it’s very likely the girls may have had spats in the past that would have increased tensions between them. It’s tragic how frequently people overreact to things involving the social network and get violent.
Unfortunately, the more entrenched the social network gets in people’s daily routines, the more emotional people seem to get about the site, and they’re not always expressing happy feelings. Other than continuing to release statements expressing regrets and cautions on how to use Facebook, I can’t think of anything the company could do to prevent these violent incidents from happening and risking unwanted negative publicity. Do you have any ideas on how to address this problem?