(WSVN) - Do you post pictures of your family outings or your children on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram? What would you do if someone took those pictures and said they were their children, that they were the parents? Don’t think it could happen? It does, right here in South Florida, which is why one family called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Brian and Sandra wanted to have children but they were having trouble. And so they turned to a procedure called In Vitro fertilization.
Brian Alvarez: “That we just went out, tried it once and it happened. And God gave us two.”
Two healthy boys and two very happy parents.
Sandra Upegui: “I want to cry.”
Sandra then discovered there were many women like her who were unable to have children. So she created an Instagram and Facebook page with pictures of the boys, born thanks to IVF, to give other parents hope.
Brian Alvarez: “It was kind of great that she was able to give them information and some kind of support.”
Then Sandra got a message on her Instagram account.
Brian Alvarez: “And then this lady kind of start telling us what her cousin was doing, which is taking the pictures away from our page, posted on her page and just saying those are her kids.”
A woman who called herself “Puddles” had taken pictures of the boys and posted them on her Facebook and Instagram pages with comments like, “My men, and their mother,” “My guys.” This one says, “Team soccer mom.” And on and on.
Brian Alvarez: “To the point that she’s changed the name of the kids on her page, which is Abraham and Aden. The kids name is Santiago and Lucas.”
She even photoshopped her baby picture in the middle of the twins’ baby picture. Puddles wrote, “me n the boys.” Her friends were amazed.
Brian Alavarez: “Even though one of the comments say, ‘Oh, when did you have twins?’ And she says like a couple of months, something like that and people started saying, ‘Oh congratulations, congratulations,’ and she responded, ‘Thank you.'”
Sandra is so worried the woman might try to grab her children, she won’t go out alone with them…
Brian Alvarez: “So every time we have doctor’s appointment, I have to get excused from my job and go with her.”
Brian shut down their Facebook and Instagram pages when he couldn’t get the woman to remove the twins’ pictures. He then asked Facebook and Instagram to shut her down.
Brian Alvarez: “Facebook never respond back and Instagram haven’t respond back either.”
And so their pictures of their boys are still on the woman’s account, leaving them with the question: Is it legal to take pictures from someone’s social media site and claim their children as your children?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News legal expert: “In my opinion these acts are a violation of Facebook and Instagram’s policies. But if they don’t think so, legally, it’s not against the law to take someone else’s pictures and post them, as long as you do not use the pictures to make money and as long you don’t intimidate, harass or defame either the kids or the parents. Since that did not happen in this case, the person who took the pictures can keep posting them.”
I contacted the woman who called herself Puddles on her Facebook and Instagram pages. She told me her name was Trinicia Williams and that her cousin had hacked her accounts and posted those pictures of the twins, that she didn’t want kids and that I should not listen to the BS people are saying about her.”
Then a couple of days later, the pictures of the twins disappeared from Puddles’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Sandra Upegui: “If you have an Instagram or Facebook page then put it on private.”
Brian and Sandra have made changes to their social media pages, and hope other parents know about the danger of posting pictures of their children as well…
Sandra Upegui: “To be careful what you post on Instagram and Facebook.”
Now if you see something on your social media page being improperly used, Facebook sent us a link to request it be taken down. It can be found below.
Brian couldn’t get Facebook to respond, but the links Facebook gave us to contact them should get their attention. As for Instagram, we will put their links up when they respond to us.
Someone posted a problem and you can’t picture a remedy? Ready to delete it from your life? Copy and paste it with us? We’ll face it and you can book it we will try to link you to a solution.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7 News.
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