Earlier this month, Sean Murphy signed onto Facebook and discovered that a photo of his little girl Serafina had been used by S——-s.
The trend has become increasingly popular lately. Sites like S——-s post pictures that aim to get an emotional response from users with the purpose of getting likes or comments.
As more users engage, it boosts their “talking about this” stat. In the end that increases the advertising revenue of pages like S——-s as people click on links to external sites, which bring them money.
Serafina’s photo shows the then 22-month old little girl after her heart surgery in a hospital gown, with Hello Kitty slippers, a bandage on her chest and tubes.
According to The Daily Dot, she had to undergo surgery in order to treat an atrial septal defect (ASD), at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago in October 2012.
Her dad posted the image on Reddit as it was an “incredibly powerful picture” and the photo immediately went viral. On Facebook it managed to amass 4.3 million likes and 61,000 shares.
“A 2 year old girl after open heart surgery… give her a LIKE to wish her a quick recovery and healthy [sic],” it reads.
“I received notifications from concerned/irate friends and strangers who were opposed to the use of this picture,” Murphy tells The Daily Dot. “At first I was inclined to report each of these sites for using my intellectual property, but in the end, I decided to reserve my rights, but not contest their use of the picture. I made this decision after reading hundreds and thousands of the comments.”
But instead of bickering with the site’s administrator, Murphy decided to use the photo’ popularity to his advantage.
“The girl pictured in this photo is my daughter. If you are touched by this image and the strength of children, don’t just ‘like’ or comment,” he wrote in a comment to the pic. “Please help me to give back to the hospital that gave my daughter life by donating as little as $5.”
Murphy is raising money for Lurie’s Children Hospital, where his daughter made a full recovery. He has managed to raise close to $4,000 toward his $5,000 goal.
“So does it thrill me that S——-s 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 tells 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.”