Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Social media

The mother of a 4-year-old boy born with a syndrome that altered the shape of his head and caused other health complications is hitting back at Internet trolls who turned a personal photo of him into a social media meme.

AliceAnn Meyer, of Texas, posted a photo of her son Jameson as part of her online blog titled Jameson’s Journey, which documents his life with Pfeiffer syndrome. The disorder causes premature fusion of certain skull bones that prevents the skull from growing normally, and affects the shape of the head and face. It can also affect bones in the hands and feet, and more than half of all children with Pfeiffer syndrome experience hearing loss and dental problems. It affects approximately 1 in 100,000 newborns, according to Boston Children’s Hospital.

Meyer, a mother of three, discovered that the picture she had posted of her son more than a year ago had been altered to compare him to a pug, and that it had been circulated on various social media sites. On Facebook, it had been shared more than 3,000 times.

“You stole a photo of my four-year-old son,” Meyer wrote in a post titled This Is My Son Jameson, And No, You May Not Use His Photo. “Say what you want out loud, to your friends, in the comment box, but do not take my photo to degrade my child,” she wrote.

“To everyone that ‘LOL’d,’ shared, and posted that meme, let me start by introducing you to the child you find so funny. His name is Jameson. He is very real, and he was born with Pfeiffer syndrome,” she wrote.

It took Meyer several days and reports of abuse from other users before the post was removed from Facebook.

“To all of you out there that are laughing so hard at my son, know that this in fact could be your child,” she wrote. “And if one day this does happen to one of you that are out there laughing and making fun, I hope and pray you change your heart and welcome that child with loving arms.”
She urged others who see the photo to report it or take a screenshot and send it to her to report.
“My goal is to turn this whole thing into a positive story, spreading awareness and education about Pfeiffer syndrome, about kids who look different who get targeted too often,” Meyer told FoxNews.com in an email. “There’s a person behind a picture, and too often people think it’s OK to cross boundaries on the Internet.”


A little over a year ago I wrote an article that featured my son’s sweet face all covered in marshmallow and chocolate, cheesin’ for the camera.

Now that sweet picture has resurfaced and is circulating around the internet. Except, that the photo has been altered. Someone, somewhere, decided for who knows what reason, to take that picture and create a meme comparing my son to a pug. What compels a person to do such a thing I will never understand. There is no way for me to know who did this, but for every post and share of this meme I will do everything in my power to get it taken down.

Exactly one week ago I spent my Saturday night fighting an individual to remove my son’s photo from his Facebook page, where it had been liked 5,000 times and shared nearly 3,000. It was no easy feat and took 100’s, maybe even 1,000’s of reports being submitted, an army of people fighting with me, and a good 24 hours before Facebook removed it from his page. Success!! Only to find it on another site, with 1,000’s more shares and likes. My heart literally sank. But, we fought on. This one took days for Facebook to remove. In addition to reporting these photos as harassment and bullying, I personally filed claims for copyright violations as this photo was stolen from my published article. I could go on about each instance this meme was found and brought to my attention, but that would take too long. The meme was found (so far) on 6 Facebook pages (3 of whom are the same person – just a little harassing), at least 8 times on Instagram, and 10 or 11 times on twitter. It is on 9gag, Tumblr, and who knows where else. Suffice it to say, it’s out there...

Facebook: you need to step up your game. Seriously, your reporting platform is crap. Your first line of action is for me to send a message to the poster. Really? Then, how is it that you report something and “it doesn’t violate community standards”, then all of a sudden 48 hours later it does? How many shares or downloads happened in that time frame? Or how about when your Support Inbox sends a message the content reported violated community standards and was removed – but it was never removed.

Instagram: thank you. You were quick, in most cases it took much less than 24 hours removing the memes. Your reporting and claim forms were also much more user friendly.

Twitter: thank you, thank you, thank you! You removed the content within 20 minutes, yes minutes of my claim being filed. Only downfall was I had to fill out the form on my computer, my phone wouldn’t submit the form. I have not really done much with Twitter, but I am going to now. I feel like I should support something that is run that efficiently. After my positive experience with Twitter I want to become more integrated, so please follow me, tweet me, just say hi! I am a bit foreign to Twitter, but I am going to learn...

So, to all of you out there that are laughing so hard at my son, know that this in fact could be your child. And if one day this does happen to one of you that are out there laughing and making fun, I hope and pray you change your heart and welcome that child with loving arms.

If you are reading this and you laughed but knew it was wrong I hope next time you choose to stand up for the child you see being made fun of. I know you are out there because I read countless comments from complete strangers standing up and saying how wrong it was. Just because you don’t know the child personally doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. It takes a village, and in this day and age of social media it is even more important to stand up and do the right thing.

I hope my tone is not negative, if it seems that way I apologize, but I am a protective mother. I promise you that as hurt as I am that someone created this meme I am not naive enough to believe there aren’t people out there who will mock and bully my child. But, I will always do what I can to encourage people to open their minds, hearts, and lives to Jameson and kiddos like him. We always Choose Kind, and we want you to as well.

What can you do to help? If you see this face somewhere it doesn’t belong, or if you see that meme, screenshot it and send it to me. Please do not share the meme. The screenshot also provides me with proof. You can also report it, as many times as you want. Unfortunately, that’s really about it for now. Once something is out there it’s there. Nonetheless, I refuse not to fight. It is absurd to me that it will ever be ok to target children to degrade and humiliate them.


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