Woman finds out via Facebook that her newborn baby's photo has been stolen

The first photograph a mother took with her newborn son was recently stolen and incorporated into a satirical fake news story.

Karena Bennett and her newborn son

A beautiful photograph, isn't it?

This picture first appeared in an article published by Connecticut newspaper, the Milford Mirror on January 2, 2015. The image shows Karena Bennett and Elder Marroquin with their newborn son, Damon. As luck would have it, he was the first baby to be born at Milford hospital in the year 2015.

It has been over a year since Karena first shared that wonderful memory with her son.

That image has since resurfaced on the web, but in perhaps one of the ugliest ways possible.

According to a Facecrooks report, Karena recently received a Facebook notification from someone with whom she had lost touch.

22-year-old Karena thought it strange that someone from her past was reaching out to her, but she decided to click on the Facebook notification anyway. The notification linked to a story with the headline "Detroit Woman Gives Birth to Her 14th Child from 14 Different Fathers." To her horror, she was taken to a story with the headline "Detroit Woman Gives Birth to Her 14th Child from 14 Different Fathers", with the first photograph of her and Damon together as its featured image.

Fake news story

The fake news story was published on World News Daily Report, a satirical entertainment "news" site that comes with the following disclaimer (albeit under a large graphic claiming "News you can trust!"):

"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."

As you have probably guessed, the site appears to be strongly focused on publishing sensational "news" stories with the intention of generating income from its online adverts.

Sadly, the disclaimer wasn't enough to prevent thousands of people from commenting on the story and labelling Karena Bennett an irresponsible mother.

Karena described her distress to ABC News:

"I started getting more and more notifications on my Facebook. When people are really starting to make comments about your person, calling you ugly, calling you fat, those were the comments that really started to hurt me a lot. That’s where I started to break down, seeing comments from 30,000 people."

Since the satirical story came out, Bennet has taken it upon herself to try to figure out who stole the image. But that has proven an uphill battle. Several of the lawyers she has reached out to lack the expertise to address something which because of its online nature is nearly untraceable.

The mother is beginning to come to terms with the inevitability of the story's indefinite circulation. Her only hope is that it will not reflect poorly on her when she decides to go to back to school and search for a job as an ultrasound technician.

"I think I'm just living day by day"

We cannot help but wonder: could Karena have done anything differently to prevent this from happening? Unfortunately, it's not clear that anything could have helped. The image was stolen from an online news outlet, not any of her personal pages over which she has control.

If it's within their ability to do so, maybe news organizations should watermark or credit their images in some way to help prevent stories like Karena's from happening.

At the same time, ordinary users should be careful about what images they post on social media and should set their profiles to private to prevent bad actors from going through their personal photos.

Do you feel uncomfortable sharing photographs of your children online?

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7 Responses

  1. coyote

    February 26, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    I think the creepy part is the fact the image was stolen and the despicable part is all the negative comments people have (typical of people to impose their beliefs – sometimes especially negative – on others despite the fact they would hate it if it were done to them .. hypocrisy to the extreme[1]). Whether she should have shared the photo or not is another matter. My personal view is a definite 'no' but I'm not a parent and I can't imagine ever being a parent seeing as how I hate kids and I hated them even when I was a kid (perhaps that is why I still hate them). But even if I felt it understandable it is most certainly is not wise and it most certainly sets a precedent (or two, three, N).

    [1] It seems to me these people are especially full of themselves. Unfortunately that includes many people on Facebook (I won't say all but from what I've seen many [most?] on Facebook are attention-seeking drama queens as well as a bit too open about themselves [for said former reasons included]). It's true we all do share some negativity at times but when it comes down to dishing out harsh judgements too many do so without any regard to how they might affect others and at the same time they would complain (which makes it whining) if anyone did anything to them – even if it was much less in severity.

  2. jess138

    February 29, 2016 at 12:29 am #

    she looks beautiful!! after having a baby, on top of that, she looks so fresh and bright eyed, bushy tailed, and loving life as a simple life enjoying woman. look how young and glowing she is! and she isn't fat. she just done the most painful (up for debate) feat in the world. and she might be a little bit retaining fluid but not near as much as i was. so what if she even did have 14 baby's from 14 different fathers she would have to have something wonderful about her to convince that many they want to have a baby and show up at the hospital for her and bouncing beautiful baby #14. look at 18 and counting even more kids.

  3. Gala

    February 29, 2016 at 6:03 am #

    I see a beautiful woman with her beautiful baby, no matter how many fake stories crazy people write about her, she is blessed with her child and the love of her family :)

  4. Simon

    February 29, 2016 at 11:36 am #

    Journalism at it's finest. Another example of how the media sells it's soul to make a story…

  5. Maranda

    February 29, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    I hope someone has Snopes post something about this so that she may direct people to it.

    I took down my pics several years ago when I became involved in a federal criminal case. I began to be more open with posting recently but only with some vintage family images.

    It helps to reverse your own images in tineye.com and Google Images. That way you know where your pics are being lerched to and can do something about it.

  6. Maranda

    February 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    Also this is not the first time World News Daily Report has done this. They didna story about a family who resuced a put bull from a shelter and then held them in fear in their homes.

    The pic they used for a dog was a pit rescue named Czar who's owner lambasted the fake paper for using her dogs image without permission.

    If I find their instagram account I'll link it here. Her dog sneezes in response to her questions and its so cute!

  7. Katy

    February 29, 2016 at 11:55 pm #

    I can understand the distress that this has caused, but empathise with the difficulty of finding, not just a lawyer, but a court with the jurisdiction to hear the case. Sadly I also realise that nobody ever reads these disclaimers. I received another example recently where one of my own friends had read an article on one of these satirical web sites and took it to be true. They contacted me with one of those, "have you seen this!" messages, but when I checked the link they sent me I quickly realised that it was a fictional story represented as a news report.

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