Over the weekend, Gawker told the story of Jack Weppler, whose angry or hilarious (both?) ex-girlfriend ran a corny picture of the kid through Meme Generator, laying mocking, sometimes offensive phrases over his face about his fashion sense or aspirations. Then the whole internet got in on the action. Weppler’s mom came to his defense, begging Google to do something about it. Gawker encouraged Weppler to “Shrug, laugh and move on,” while Urlesque says they aren’t sure if “his ex is just crazy.” But we’re going to go ahead and say it: she won.
My minor son’s ex-girlfriend took a copyrighted picture of him (we own copyright) and uploaded it more than 60 times to a website. On each image she wrote slanderous, defamatory and pornographic captions. The webmaster of the site states he removed the images 6 weeks ago, but Google Search still shows all the images. My son is so stressed out and embarrassed and we’ve done everything we can to get images off of Google.
Yes, cyber-bullying can be a very real thing. Additionally, some of the variations on the meme include inexcusable and unfunny homophobic statements. But assuming we can chalk those up to anonymous internet trolls and not the ex, she kind of did a cool (and crazy!) thing by taking the tools available to her and just clowning the guy who seemingly hurt or wronged her somehow. (And the fact that the guy has a professional head shot in the first place doesn’t exactly inspire sympathy.)
She probably intended it for a few of her closest friends to giggle at, but the reason we’re still reading about this story is because in attempt to cover it up, the Weppler family went about it all wrong. Patience could have been a virtue. Instead, it’s everywhere, demonstrating that the Wepplers are ignorant of how the internet works, and more specifically, the Streisand effect: “a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of perversely causing the information to be publicized more widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no contrary action had been attempted.”
The pictures are (or were, at least) slowly disappearing. His Google image search looks like this now, whereas it used to be a straight flush:
But take a look at his standard Google results. The girl might get grounded, but she’ll have a hell of a story when she gets to college. Weppler, on the other hand, will probably never be an actor or a model. And he’d have to be a pretty successful one to get his Google back.