Woman’s Reputation Ruined After Her Photo is Misrepresented Online
Imagine waking up one morning to find a picture of yourself all over the internet atop a negative, satirical article with thousands of comments. You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled. This nightmare became a reality for 22-year-old mom Karena Bennett, who stumbled across a photo of her with her family after her first son was born featured in an article about a made-up mom, named Anita Sullivan, who supposedly had 14 kids with 14 different men.
Bennett encountered the article after she was tagged in a Facebook post by someone she used to work with. Confused as to why she was being tagged, Bennett clicked on the link and was shocked to see her photo at the top of the page.
The article–which, just to be clear, is a satirical piece posted on a satirical website–quickly went viral. People all over the internet shared, retweeted, and posted the story, which is how Bennett found it so quickly. She was horrified to find out that this story had people all over the world thinking that she had 14 children with fourteen different men.
Even though they didn’t use her real name, Bennett is still worried that people on the street might recognize her and call her out for being the made-up mother from the article. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Bennet said that this story has tainted the picture of one of her fondest moments:
It was definitely a big shock. I guess it is what it is. Sometimes I feel like it isn’t such a big deal…It just stinks. I feel like I’ll never officially get everything down … It’s just hard. … It’s just still out there, and people are still commenting.
To the writers at World News Daily Report (WNDR) who put up this article, Bennett has this to say:
It’s unfortunate because some people could think this is harmless, but it isn’t. It can just keep circulating and circulating. I’m sorry, but someone has to take action.
In an attempt to hold someone accountable for disregard of her privacy and personal photos, Bennett reached out to several of her friends and family members who are attorneys to see if there was any kind of legal action she could take–she’d like to sue the website for defaming her character. Unfortunately, none of the people whom she spoke to have the skills to manage a case like this. Internet-related offenses are difficult to resolve and they often require a lot of time and money, which victims rarely have. Not to mention that issues like these are relatively new, with little precedent to help clarify new legal questions.
World Daily News Report also has a legal disclaimer on its site about its content:
WNDR shall not be responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by website users or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in this website or by any technical or human error which may occur.
WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.
Given the nature of the website, it seems unlikely that Bennett will receive any kind of compensation from WNDR. The real bummer here is that the emotional damage will never really be resolved. One of the worst consequences of the story going viral is all the nasty comments from those who thought the story was real. Several people also took to social media to share their opinion of her:
Anita Sullivan Jones broke a World Record by giving birth to her 14th child. https://t.co/3gAxvHzMNJ Record breaker indeed, or prostitution?
— Comrade. (@Nensoo_vission) February 19, 2016
Bennett hopes all the chatter will die down soon and this whole nightmare won’t come back to haunt her later in life. She hopes that people will realize that the article featuring her photo is satirical (not to mention that it’s not actually about her) and will stop making ridiculous accusations about her family and moral judgment.
In the age of fast-spreading information and anonymity on the internet, it’s easy for people to be targeted without even knowing it. This story should teach all of us a lesson about protecting personal information, photos, and videos as much as possible online–otherwise, you never know where it might end up.