Dear Social Media: Your Take on Our Stolen Photo

Friend – you are a crap shoot.

You are a giver and a taker.

You have put me back in touch with friends from days gone by(thanks Facebook!), but you have also opened the doors to less savory (though flattering) events.

I never expected to see and hear from some of those High School folks again – but I am loving the reconnection. Wait….you’re a mom?  A dad?  And you have kids the age WE WERE when I last saw you?  Crazy.

And the college crew – how mind-blowing to watch them come out of the woodwork with husbands, wives and kids.

To say nothing of my new circle of social media gurus – men and women, mommy bloggers, women entrepreneurs, and work at home gals – all new friends.

TwitterNingStumbleUpon.  I Digg you all.

And then of course, there are our new friends in the Czech Republic. You see, since my family was unwittingly made the poster-children for a local grocery store – I’ve been getting visits from all over the world.

And, hey, new visitors – thanks for stopping by….I know you came to see this:


the  ‘wow-did-that-really-happen-story”, but I like making new friends – feel free to come by again.

You can also see a few other versions of the story by clicking here, or here and here if you speak other languages.

  • Lisa McCart

    I just saw your story on my MSN homepage and love mom blog sites, so I came to visit. I must say that I am so sorry for you to have to deal with the stupid, insensitive, and cruel statements from people. You do not need to reply, I just wanted to send you some encouragement. God Bless you and your family.

  • Mike

    What do you expect plastering your family and children s faces all over the WORLD WIDE WEB ? Just asking for trouble with all the dangerous people in this world. Show some responsibility regarding the privacy of your kids. What happened to a little common sense ???

  • Kenny Hart

    I would see this as a blessing,from God our father and the LORD JESUS, to see my family as what He has done. In these days of broken and destroyed family’s, I know it is just a picture, but to some it bring’s hope to someone without. When we put things on the net,and that is what it is, it is open ground. You have a great looking family in this picture. I hope and pray that it is the same inside your hearts. I have a family of five three girls and two son’s, life is not easy, but God is good every day. Sometimes God does thing’s that we do not always understand, but why should we, He’s God and were not. I would leave it up, it could change lives for his glory.
    God bless you and keep you and to make His face to shine upon you. In His love Kenny Hart

  • Kim

    When I first saw this, I thought you were just kidding and that it was one of those websites that you insert your picture into some kind of pre-photographed setting. I guess I just couldn’t believe that something like this ACTUALLY happened. I think it just goes to show how powerful the internet is and how people can take advantage of things we may do innocently. Your family is lovely and I have to admit you did make a nice advertisement. I would have thought you were all a bunch of models – I am really so surprised anyone would say anything bad at all. I can only surmise that people want to be nasty for nastiness’ sake.

  • Jean

    I can understand why your family photo was picked among the thousands in the Internet that the grocery store owner probably had to sift through. It’s an ADORABLE photo! Everyone in the picture has a contagious big smile, especially the kids! It didn’t take long before I started smiling – BIG – myself!

  • James

    Just surfed in , bec of your new found fame in the Yahoo news..and Czech.

  • Connie


    What a beautiful family you have. What I don’t understand is why everyone is surprised. Anything that you post on Facebook, My Space, You Tube, etc. is liable to end up anywhere.

  • nigel

    I just came across this, how crazy that your picture ended up there. Anyway, what a great family you have. May God Bless you and your family.

    Best Wishes,

  • Maria Eka Pratiwi

    Hello danielle..
    I think you have a wonderful family..
    anything could happen in this small world..
    as your friend found your family picture in another country..
    hope God bless your family always.
    greetings from indonesia

  • Larry Selvidge

    Well, I won’t make this an anonymous post, or say anything hateful. You have a beautiful family, and your story is unique, entertaining, and thankfully has a happy ending. You are not a moron, nor are you a bad parent. Judging by the picture I’d say you were very blessed. Hope you and your family have a wonderful life, and thanks for sharing!

    Knightstown, IN

  • Monica@MommyBrainReports

    This is just too weird… I’m so glad you are taking action though! I wouldn’t know the first place to begin if I ever found out something like this happened. Good luck with everything!!!

  • Keonte’

    Saw you first thing this morning as I went to sign-on to my mail. I heard the story before today, but I did not know all the details.

    Hope your family finds time to rest! You have been one, busy mommy.

    Hang in there, it will get better.

    Still can’t get over the story. Makes me want to look at every random billboard and ad if and when I travel.

  • http://God'sPowerandLove Elizabeth Hughes

    I saw that on the news on my homepage and read it to my 17 year old daughter. How extraordinary and a bit scary. It just proves that anything can happen in cyberspace.
    Liz Hughes

  • Janis Patera

    You have a very beautiful family and that is probably why your picture was chosen. You are an awesome mom and a very strong woman. We could all learn something from what you and your family has been through. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure your kids will love to hear the story over and over again when they are older, about how the were once celeberties.


  • Jozie

    I am very concerned by your story and thankful that you have made others know about it. It is very concerning, because if you and or your friends did not sell,post or provide this picture willingly, then there are only a few explanations of how it couldhave been obtained. Even more concerningly, there are so many bad hands that it could have and still can end up in. As parent with children and a concerned citizen, and someone in a family of law enforcement officers, I would suggest doing what you can to protect what is left of your identity, location, email addresses etc, and most importantly your children’s info as well. There are human trafficking and pedophile predators out there and american children are amoung the most target and prized. This store owner may be innocent and unknowing-but every article on the internet CAN be tracked, has info embedded in it and you should absolutely do what you can to find out the trail this photo travelled. Also I would suggest putting adding some security to your sites-if they are not already just for family, and increasing or updating the security software on your computer. I don’t want to scare you, but these networks are sophisticated and particular and perhaps your family email/info has been hacked into or your family has been targeted in some way. Idon’t believe personally that this owner didn’t know where the photo came from-whether it was a jo-schmo theif who said it was an american family and he just wanted it for advertising or there are more sinister reasons-you need to get to the bottom of this. Your family certainly doesn’t look Czech…please keep me updated or perhaps if you find something out and preventative measures are taken-post those so no others info and pics are ever used.

  • Mark Fran

    Hi, I’m from the philippines and I have read your story in, I just would like to comment on this issue.
    Because I think I have an idea how your photo was used to make that ad on the store, this is just my opinion and from what I have seen on work by some rookie designers(by the way I’m a web designer by profession), I think the designer that did those ad for the store thought your photo was a stock photo or royalty free images that they can download from the internet and used it which is free and legal.
    The best way to not experience this again is to make an electronic watermark on the photos you have posted on your accounts in the internet, that way if ever they use your photos without you knowing about it, you can sue them and that way they cannot erase it or hide it.
    Just an opinion though and Take care.

  • Cecilia Arias

    Hi Danielle,

    It is nice to see this happening. Your family picture shows a naturally-happy family and that’s a reward to see. It has happened twice to us with one of our family pictures. It was published in the front cover of a newspaper in Honduras and also in a big banner in Peru. In both cases, the pictures were spotted by friends or family members. In both cases, it was a message from God directly to us. We have no other explanation.

    We hope the best for you and your family.

  • Therese

    It is crazy how much this has exploded, huh? I know your mix of emotions has to be ranging from shock, to being flattered to being scared. I know it must be moving so fast that you may not have time to process it all which is maybe a good thing. Can’t wait to hear how NY was!

    Your friend – Therese

  • Alicia

    I have heard this happening and I wonder if I have tons of pictures on my blog if they are being used somewhere. I’m just glad that you did have the pictures used in a good way. What a coincidence you have a friend in Prague that could tell you about it. I’m glad this all ended well!

  • Michael

    That is so crazy about ur photo but there are crazy ppl in this world. I actually had a prob to with my photos I have had a so called friend steal picts from my facebook and posted them creating a faux Myspace and a fake account on yahoo contacting random ppl showing my pict and using my name. I don’t know if the FBI spealizes in that but if find any information about how to protect our photos online I would love to hear about it!! Thanks.

  • Robert

    Hi, saw your story on the web, then ksdk, and I found out that anything you post on photobucket is public domain. Here’s the text from photobucket:

    By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Photobucket Services, you hereby grant to Photobucket and other users a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content marked “private” will not be distributed outside the Photobucket Services.

  • Nealy

    Hi, just read an article about your “picture problem” on associated press. Had to stop by and read your thoughts on the whole ordeal!!

    I can definately understand why the store owner thought the picture was computer generated. You’re all so gorgeous!! Congratulations on having such a photo friendly family!!

  • missy @ It’s almost naptime

    Wow. Very weird. On one hand, hilarious, but on another hand – yeah, a little disturbing.

    Hmmm. Making me think about that watermark available on Picasa.

  • Danielle

    Kurt – I will reply to you when I am back in town!

  • Christopher

    Wow, Danielle,
    What a crazy story. Well, as others have said, the picture is just lovely so who WOULDN’T want to use it in an advertisement? Of course, getting your permission would have been nice!

    Best wishes to you and your family.
    Chris from Austin

  • Stevie

    Hey, it’s such a professional quality photo with beautiful people smiling (the typical happy-family type they are trying to make for such ads), no wonder they used it. So on the one hand, it’s frightening how it got to the storefront, on the other, it’s a praise of a photo well done!

  • Shamaine

    they probably thought you guys looked like the perfect happy family..which i’m sure it is!

  • Jiri Kovats

    Hello, one thing that bothers me to no end is that the Czech Republic is refered to as Eastern European country by the media and the politicians. Prague is called The Heart of Europe over there for the obvious reason that it is located right smack in the geometric center of Europe. Czech Republic is located in central Europe. When will AP wisen up?. I guess they missed the geography class.

    George (born and raised in Prague)

  • Wendy Manthey

    Atleast you know you have a beautiful family! :)


    Totally amazing! I would leave the photo up in Prague! It’s wonderful!


    Matthew Rose

  • jolie

    haha think in the bright side
    it’s a really nice photo all smilesssssss
    your kids look great too
    not a bad thing afterall :)

    ps. you can tell this story to you grandkids, will make a great story yeah

  • jerry

    Hello There,

    I read the piece on Yahoo about the 10,000 mile journey of your family photo. When I read that you posted the photo on social networking sites and on your blog I was surprised at your surprise that it was lifted for some other use.
    Actually, if you don’t want people you don’t know to see your photos, then don’t post them! It is that simple. Posting ANYTHING is an invitation for others to take it, post it themselves, and spread the data. It is naive to believe anything else!!! Maybe next time, send those family cards and photos via the US mail system. It maybe more costly and time consuming, but more personable and safer. Just a thought.

    jerry of Carl and Jerry’s Pubcast and blogspot

  • http://- Stefan

    I think it’s a wonderful thing to have such a nice family that someone would make a commercial from your pictures! 😀

    I would let the shop owner use the photo but ask him to put a small note that states your ownership of the pictures.

    Another thing, It’s wrong to call any country in central Europe “Eastern European”, only Russia is In the East (in fact it is THE east 4/10 of Europe is Russia), Europe ends at the Ural mountains :).

    Best regards from Romania! (Central European country :)) )

  • http://- Stefan

    Me again, I forgot to say that I do not understand why people find this scary or bad in any way?! It has no malicious intention, it just represents the model family!

    So i would be proud if someone would find my family so nice and close to the international view of the happy family.

    Stefan, Romania

  • TM

    Hello, it must be a shocked to have your photo posted all the way in prague but it is a wonderful photo of your family. Even I would buy food from that local store. May I ask how do you apply the digital watermark on photos?


  • Jenny

    I didn’t have time to read all the other comments so I don’t know if anyone else has said this. I was wondering if you posted this picture on Facebook. Anything that is posted on there become their property and they can use it for anything they want or even sell it.

  • Tabitha

    It’s not really a “blessing” or “flattering”, it’s a man who got a free ad for his store. Because some people would be “flattered” to be hired as actors in a film without pay, actors needed to have unions so that they could actually get paid for their work. Bottom line, this man should do what every legitimate advertiser does and hire people to pose for his ads. Would you be flattered to never get paid for the ads on this blog? Yes, it’s flattering that so many people look at the blog, but it would NOT be flattering to not get compensated for the ads on your blog. It’s the same thing.

  • Jessica

    Hi Danielle, I just wanted to tell you to keep your head up! Don’t listen to people who have nasty things to say, it is ridiculous and they are unhappy in their lives… you know misery loves company. This is what celebrities deal with on a daily basis forever… you are in the spotlight for right now and that is when people have their oppurtunity to critique you even when there isn’t anything to criticize. You seem like a wonderful mother and your family looks so happy. Don’t worry about anything else – you give off a lot to be jealous about… I wish you and your family the best of luck!!! :)

  • Heather

    1. I think you should feel honored. you have a beautiful family.
    2. You should know better in today’s tech society… once you put something on the internet that what ever you posted is seen and used by many people. If you didn’t want the world to see or use your picture than you shouldn’t have put it on the internet. Stick to the snail mail if you don’t want your pictures shared by the world
    3. You should ask for $$$ and let him keep the sign.

  • J

    People who have negative things to say about you are just jealous. I could only hope that I have a family as beautiful as yours one day, apparently the Czech grocery store thought you were picture picture perfect! You should try to get a copy of the ad from the store to have as a keep sake, What a great crazy story!

  • Alisa N.

    The picture stealing scares me to death. I recently made my blog private but I still have pics on some social networks. I guess I need to watermark them as well!

  • http://none Oriana

    Hello, first, the family portrait is beautiful, you have a wonderful family and am glad you are happy.

    Secondly, it is no secret that anyone can uplift any image from the internet and make personal use of it (them). You are fortunate that this was used in a good way….you head for example could be pasted on someone doing AWFUL things….it’s just not good to publicize your innermost feelings, thoughts, personal matters, or expose your loved ones, because it’s a DANGEROUS world out there. People can even impersonate others using their pics from off the www.

    Thirdly, blogs can be made PRIVATE, only for selected readers.

    By the way I saw the article in the news and clicked on the site out of curiosity.

    It would be wise to not allow for your pics to be easily archivable or copied.

    Regards and stay happy.

  • Karmon in Wash DC metro are of Va

    I saw your family on GMA this morning. Yikes! Ive put photos of my bfamily out there and didn’t really think much about it until this morning. I will start using a watermark. You have a beautiful family

  • Eren Loyzaga

    Hi! I saw your story on yahoo news. Such an interesting story.

    I can see why the owner used your family’s photo for their store, you are an attractive bunch. Lovely photo of you and your family.


  • Kim, Florida

    Hi Danielle,

    I can only imagine how you felt when you saw your family photo posted up on that window–all this talk from other bloggers about, do you realy own it or did you sign a waver? is crap! that is your family, your husband and your children.

    When I read the story on (front and center) what had caught my eye was yes the photo and at first I thought you had won something, and then when I started reading,,,,WELL THEN okay what are the chances that your freind would see this all the way over there? but let’s be real— I think it is more at a risk and very creapy and goes to show our society in todays world how the new technology can very well work against us.

    As a mother I would be very uspet that my two young children were posted on the store front and at this point who cares about who does and does not own the photo as these people go on about, what about the safety af you and your family and the rights that you have as people.

    I have never wrote to anyone on the internet before that I did not know–LOL OK OK well I did chat with my new coffee makers’ on-line rep haha, but I realy do see how you must feel about this, some how crazy was that? and what about.

    Take Care

    Kim, RN

  • Steve

    I don’t understand why people are so shocked at this. Didn’t anyone see National Lampoons European Vacation? That was like 2 decades ago. C’mon of course if you post pictures of your family on the internet they may be used by others (or misused). I just don’t get the apparant ignorance? Not trying to be mean or insensitive, but seriously…to avoid this in the future – keep your personal life personal and off the internet. Its really that simple, and if you choose to post that stuff, recognize the risk. And please, don’t oooh and aaah about it like its the first time you saw a sunrise.

  • Mandy

    Hmmm… How difficult can it really be to figure out that marketing and graphics companies use the web to locate pictures for their ad work.
    People take photos from the web all the time for their work, designs, and so on. This is nothing new and nothing to be ‘amazed’ about. If people don’t want their pictures risked of being used, they should not post them on the web.

  • Hotomom

    I am so sorry that this happened to you, but I am also glad that you are getting a chance to talk about it. This is something I have always worried about happening to me and now I am taking steps to hopefully avoid pictures of my kids being used in an improper way. You always hear the warnings but now we all now it can happen. Thanks for putting it out there.

  • Ann

    Jiri Kovats, when has Prague been called the heart of Europe? Must be by their own country men. I’m north European and have never even considered the Czech Republic a real part of Europe. We don’t consider Eastern Europe any part of the actual and real Europe at all. The heart of Europe is Western Europe. Its completely separate. Calling Czech Rep Europe would be like calling Mexico the United States simply for it being a part of North American while it has nothing really to do with USA.

  • Sinclair

    in reply to Mandy’s “How difficult can it really be to figure out that marketing and graphics companies use the web to locate pictures for their ad work.
    People take photos from the web all the time for their work, designs, and so on. This is nothing new and nothing to be ‘amazed’ about. If people don’t want their pictures risked of being used, they should not post them on the web.”

    Here’s a novel idea: some of us believe, or want to believe that there is integrity in the world and that people would not steal another’s content. I believe in honesty, and so am coninually “amazed” at this type of development, even though I try to be careful and do know it is possible. Stealing a family photo is not the same as scouring for royalty-free images to use for some purpose. While mistakes can be made when finding images that are ‘free’, it is difficult to believe that an obvious family photo on a social networking site was mistaken for a royalty free image.