A little over a week ago, I began receiving strange emails that my daughter “Mallory” had her picture posted on facebook and the picture had gone viral. I thought it was a misunderstanding because I don’t have a daughter by that name. Eventually, I was sent a link to a post where I saw a picture of our daughter Katie in a bizarre and crazy technological phenomenon that rocked our simple little world.
Katie’s picture had been stolen, her identity falsified and a story contrived all for the thrill, challenge and intent of creating a viral post. The reality that someone would exploit our daughter and her special needs for facebook “likes” was nonsensical and surreal.
While we are disturbed and distressed that someone would take advantage of Katie in this way, we are simultaneously humbled and gratified for the monstrous outpouring of love, support and encouragement directed toward our daughter. Literally millions upon millions of individuals across the country and the world have been moved and united in solidarity to support her. You have been touched by her beautiful face and wished to reach out to her. You have seen beyond her disability to the spirit that lies beneath. There are no words to adequately express what we have felt to watch the world unite behind our Katie. Truly the goodness still present in an often-ugly world is staggering, and we are honored to witness it first hand. In that spirit, we felt the desire to reach out to you in return and let you meet the real princess in pink.
Katie is the youngest of five children and is loved and adored by her parents, her siblings and all who meet her. While she is shy, she will almost always introduce herself with a hug and a smile. Katie has been reading since she was 18 months old. She loves Carrie Underwood and can sing the words to every one of her songs. Each morning getting ready for school she tells us which Disney princess she looks like, unless, of course, she looks like Carrie Underwood that day. She has an uncanny ability to know when someone in our home is sad. She finds them in minutes and stays with them until they feel better. We are truly blessed to be Katie’s parents and to have her in our home.
In our effort to have Katie’s falsified picture removed from facebook, we have been met with silence at every turn. There is little protection from the law in regards to cyber impersonation. While we feel passionate about protecting free speech in our country, including on the internet, stealing someone’s identity is theft and falls outside of that definition. We have learned first hand how scary it can be for someone to impersonate a loved one online. We have also learned the frightening power of today’s information age.
Please help us get the word out and tweet or “like” our facebook post and “share” it on your wall for others to see. While we may not be able to get Katie’s stolen picture removed, maybe we can prevent it from happening to someone else. Awareness is a vital part to fighting this contemptible practice.
If you would like to explore what you can do to protect against the exploitation and impersonation of children online we have found a great website where you can find out what laws exist in your state and how to contact your representatives to express the need to pass legislation in your area. That website is sspblue.com/tag/e-impersonation/.
Switch to our mobile site