It was odd enough when a public Facebook photo of Kylee Baumle’s newborn granddaughter got 343,000 likes and more than 2,000 shares, most obviously from total strangers who didn’t know who the infant was.
The baby’s wild popularity (and mistaken identity) is a side effect of Facebook’s sharing options, which allow anyone to share a friend’s photo on their own news feed without a clear means of crediting the original photographer. Combine that with a daisy chain of well-meaning grandparents, and baby Hannah has become one of the most popular babies on the network.
At first, new grandmother Baumle wrote on her gardening blog that she was amused by the Facebook mixup.
“Apparently, when you post a photo of a beautiful baby (and that's something that everyone who comments seems to agree on), it's like the internets get sprinkled with magical fairy dust. We're calling it ‘The Hannah Effect,’” she wrote.
Now the story is getting more serious, however, as Hannah’s photo is being mistaken for a baby picture of the late Amanda Todd. Baumle told the Daily Dot:
“One of my readers contacted me to inform me that Hannah's picture had been used in a YouTube video about the girl from Canada that had been bullied that committed suicide last week. This came as quite a surprise to me and of course, I had not given permission to use that photo. I asked to have it removed. They removed my comment asking them to do so, and I was subsequently blocked by the user so that I could not comment further.”
The photo Baumle took of her granddaughter shows up at 0:04 in the memorial video:
Baumle said she has no idea why the videographer decided to block her or why YouTube will not respond to her take down requests. It’s not that the photo is being used in a misleading way (though it certainly is), but that she never granted the creator permission to use it.
“Even though I took the photo, the child belongs to my daughter and her husband, and they have expressed that they would not have allowed it either. Posting a family photo on Facebook is one thing, but unlawful use of an image is another, and the fact that it's a child somehow makes it seem more wrong,” she said.
Baumle’s daughter, Jenna, left a comment on the video that hasn’t been deleted yet:
“The picture you use in your opening scene is a picture of my daughter. I feel horrible for Amanda and am glad that you are taking your time to get her message out. Unfortunately, this picture was not authorized for you to use and this is a copyrighted photo,” she wrote.
It’s one thing that hundreds of thousands of people have mistaken baby Hannah as somebody else. But it’s another that she’s making her way to different social networks.
“I'm hoping that YouTube will do the right thing and remove the video,” she said.
Photo by Kylee Baumle