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My Face Was Used For A Viral Meme

April 1, 2014 at 1:52 PM

cyberbullyEarlier we posted about a 6-year-old whose picture was unknowingly taken at Walmart and posted online as a joke. Read a response from a woman who is in the midst of a similar situation. Blogger Helene Sula had no idea that a picture she had originally posted on her blog would end up being used in a politically-based meme and circulated among thousands of people. These unfortunate situations demonstrate how easily an incident can be taken out of context and turn viral by a cyberbully. This article was originally published on Thought Catalog by Helene Sula.

I woke up around 9:30 am Vegas time, after only sleeping for a few hours. I lazily checked my phone and email. Far more emails than normal, but I’d get to them later. I was in Vegas after all. I quickly glanced at my blog’s Facebook page and noticed quite a few messages. Something was up. Most of the emails were from people I didn’t know, and all focused on the same topic: Did you know you’re a meme?

Ok… let me just click on this link…

The Comical Conservative

The Comical Conservative

My face, on a right wing conservative meme making fun of Obamacare.  (Also, they might want to learn how to spell conspiracy). As you can see this has been shared over 14,000 times and liked over 20,000 times. This one was posted on The Right Wing News Facebook page — just one of several sites sharing this, all with different versions of my crying face, all anti-Obama.

You might remember this picture from THIS POST when the guy at the hair salon dyed my hair way too dark and I was so upset I took a selfie mid cry. I also used the photo when I went through the different shades of my hair color throughout my hair dying years. Never did I imagine it would be swiped and used for propaganda.

My Face Is A Viral MemeThis one’s via The Comical Conservative (note how I’m giving credit.)

Here’s what really gets me: I don’t talk politics on this blog, because, honestly,  I’m not as informed as I’d like to be. But if anyone asked me I’d tell them that I voted for Obama, twice. Not only that, I actually HAVE Obamacare. Yep. I went to healthcare.gov and got insurance. Despite all the negative publicity, I have to say it was easy. I had no problems. And, unlike what the picture would have you believe, I never expected it to be free. So, not only did someone take my picture without my consent, they used it to profess the opposite of what I stand for.

What I find interesting today is that with so much information out there, we simply take what suits us and toss out anything that doesn’t. So, typically, I wouldn’t see this meme or even care. But because it hit so close to home, I was forced to consider the implications. It seems that as a society, we’re blasting out information without too much concern as to whether it’s wrong, right or even misspelled. (I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that myself.) And if that information (or misinformation) finds its way onto the right channel, it has the potential to go viral, regardless of the context. Who cares if the sobbing girl in the picture is actually upset over a botched hair job, and not crying over “big bad” Obama’s Affordable Care Act?

Well, I do. Several of the comments on the fake political poster using my face, criticized “young people who just think they have it so tough. God I hate them.” One told the girl in the picture to “Grow the **** up.” Meaning me. Most of the comments were basically just anti-Obama for the sake of being anti-Obama. We see images like this everyday. My Face Is A Viral MemeWe laugh, we share, we move on. But when it twists the truth just to confuse and misinform, it makes you realize that much of what is out there isn’t true. No matter what side you’re on. What’s more disturbing is when your face or name is associated with something you don’t believe in, and there’s really not a whole lot you can do about it.

If there’s an upside in this it is my renewed urge to keep more informed. To not share information that is wrong, misleading, or has no relevance. And never steal people’s images and make fun of them.

And come on people, don’t make fun of the person in the meme. It probably has nothing to do with what the issue actually is.

Take these random memes I found on the Internet:

Memes: we have feelings too.

Access the full article "My Face Was Used for a Viral Meme" here.

                      the decline of online privacy                

Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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