real life

Facebook exploited my daughter - this is how I fought back

This is Serafina Murphy, a gorgeous 22-month-old girl who had open-heart surgery last year. The little girl was lucky to survive the operation. In this photo she looks so fragile and vulnerable in her Hello Kitty slippers, hospital gown and bandages on her chest. It's hard to imagine anyone wanting to take advantage of her.

The photo was taken by Serafina's mum and posted by her dad Sean on Reddit because he felt it was so powerful.

“It was incredibly difficult to say goodbye to my daughter on the morning of her surgery,” he wrote. “What an odd and unnerving feeling knowing that my daughter’s heart would be literally stopped for close to three hours while a patch was sewn into the hole in her heart.”

Over the next few days, Serafina recovered enough strength to take a walk around the hospital. That’s when her relieved mum snapped the photo above.

When the proud dad found out it had been stolen and circulated on a Facebook spam page, you can just imagine how he felt.

Then he did something extraordinary.

The Illinois father signed onto Facebook and found out the picture had been taken by Starteens page, a page that practices "social content farming". It posts deliberately inflammatory photos that incite strong reactions from viewers who will hopefully 'like' or 'comment' on it.  The higher 'likes' and 'talking about this' get the better a page such as Starteens can become at using people to click on links featured on their pages which go direct to external sites and from these they can make advertising revenue.

Serafina's photo totalled 4.3 million likes and 61,000 shares.

Murphy decided to use his daughter's social media fame to ask others to give something in her honour which he would then gift to the hospital that saved her life - Lurie's Children Hospital.

He told WCIX. "I quickly posted a comment saying, 'I'm Serafina's father.  If this picture touches you and you want to do something more than just like it, you can give back to the hospital that helped save her life."

It resulted in driving about 43,000 people to his donation page to raise money for the hospital.

"So does it thrill me that Starteens and other Facebook pages are profiteering off pictures of sick children? Do I like that they often misrepresent Serafina’s story, claiming that she just had the surgery, or that each like = $1 for her (I wish!)? No,' Murphy added according to The Daily Dot.

"But in the end, I believe that she has become somewhat of a symbol for those whose lives are in some way affected by a congenital heart defect."

To help this family raise funds for little kids like Serafina, click here.

You can also contact your local children's hospitial and make a donation. Because you never know when it will be your child who needs their help.

Have you ever been tricked into "liking" a sick child photo on Facebook?