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Facebook Blocks Account Over Special Olympics Photos


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(Updated: April 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM CT)

A North Carolina mom says Facebook suspended her account after she uploaded photos of her son with Down syndrome participating in a Special Olympics event.

Diana Cornwell posted an album with 40 photos of her son, Cole, 7, participating in a Special Olympics event last Friday. By the time she checked Facebook again on Sunday she says the photos had been flagged.

“Never upload any photos that contain hate speech, support for violent organizations or threats to harm others,” read the message that popped up on Cornwell’s screen.

The Charlotte-area mom was asked to remove the photos and her Facebook account was blocked for three days.

Cornwell says she’s astounded by the situation given that the photos showed kids having fun.

“There were a lot of special needs kids having a blast, playing games and receiving commendations for what they accomplished that day,” Cornwell told WCNC, the Charlotte, N.C. NBC affiliate. To read more click here.

Facebook has since issued a statement to ABC News indicating that Cornwell’s account has been reactivated.

“The photo was was taken down in error. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and we hope she’ll repost the photo and continue to share her son’s experience at the Special Olympics on Facebook,” the statement said.

No further explanation from the social network was provided.

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Comments (25 Responses)

  1. Dot McFarlane says:

    That’s beyond ridiculous. Meanwhile, Facebook thinks nothing of allowing clearly discriminatory pages to remain, despite numerous complaints!!!!

  2. Sharon Ryan says:

    Isn’t it more likely that someone copied her photos and used them for some other FB page that makes fun of kids with special needs?

  3. kerin t. says:

    This is ridiculous given that there ARE pages on Facebook that are full of hate-speech. I have one in particular in mind. Many people have flagged the page, which exists solely to make of people with Down syndrome. Facebook refuses to remove it. Horrible judgement on Facebook’s part.

  4. msamericanpatriot says:

    I remember one page on Facebook that made fun of Palin’s son with Down Syndrome. I remember trying to get it shut down. These were harmless pics that a mother posted of a happy time in her son’s life. This is disgustingly mean.

  5. Sheri H says:

    I have uploaded Special Olympics photos but have never had that happen.

  6. Shelley Patterson says:

    Some parents are really touchy about their kids photos being posted. Maybe another parent flagged the photos because his/her child was also in it.

  7. Kelley Schwab says:

    Facebook definitely has its problems, but I think its because someone with access to look at Ms Cornwell’s photos (a Facebook ‘friend’?) is messed up more than Facebook is for having a generic content-block solution.
    My 10 year old son has DS and I have tons of pictures on FB since I joined in 2008 – never had a problem.
    Facebook certainly needs to create a better follow up process to content-bolck requests, but the ignorance of whoever submitted the request is the bigger problem.

  8. Tim says:

    Outragious! I thought we were encouraging diversity. Children are cute, not offensive. I think facebook was the only one being inappropreate here!

  9. WRay says:

    It may have to do with confidentiality – of others in the pics.

  10. Allison says:

    Ive posted many pictures of my son on Facebook. This has to be some kind of mistake. FB obviously doesn’t watch things that closely. Why not find out for sure the who and why before assuming FB is out to get children with special needs…

  11. Anonymous says:

    This story is in desperate of additional facts. Without the additional detail, it is sort of a non-story.

  12. joy carey says:

    That is too sad that would be done…..Do you think though another parent saw the pictures and their child in them and did not want them posted?? You would think since it was so positive and happy it would not have been flagged.

  13. tommy says:

    i can not blev that way wod sum body do a thing like that

  14. Cindy Hix says:

    I am wondering if FB took this action based on another parent of children pictured in the photos objected to their childs phone being published on a FB wall that was not their own. I would have reservations about a stranger uploading photo’s of my children their personal pages on FB.
    This may not have been a bad thing, but rather a mis-understood thing.

  15. Kaye says:

    I think this is horrible! You should be allowed to post photos of your children and friends having fun!

  16. Angelwow says:

    I am pretty upset about this. I do not think that Facebook has seen these pictures or they would not have blocked the site or the pics. There must have been a mistake somewhere and Facebook needs to acknowledge that. There is no way that a picture or pictures of Down Syndrome (disabled) kids would be considered violating any Facebook terms especially considering the types of some of the pictures that “are” allowed on facebook (exposing body parts and such). I am disabled and would feel extremely violated if this is tFacebooks policy. I am interested in hearing Facebooks response and apology to this woman and seeing her account reinstated. This is a shame.

  17. Regis McNicholas says:

    There’s a lot more to life than FB. I don’t blame you for being confused by their actions, but if they won’t supply you with a justification, just don’t go back to them. There are other ways to socialize and share photos on the net. Funny to me how nearly everyone seems to accept the authority of this one silly site to regulate their internet content. If I were the parent of this child I’d never go back. And everyone who’s really upset: you aught to move on to something better.

  18. Regis McNicholas says:

    There should be no need for confidentiality when it comes to the special needs of peoples children. The very idea sets America back fifty years. People who can’t love a child have their own, very ugly, disability.

  19. Barbara Morgan says:

    Photos and other postings are flagged by READERS, not Facebook. Obviously someone who likes to torment and humiliate challenged individuals is doing this to her. Facebook probably doesn’t even take the time to review items that are flagged. I have had Special Olympic photos for years, as have many of my friends with no problems. Facebook isn’t the problem.

  20. Annee says:

    I agree with Shelly and Wray – it is most likely that some parent flagged the picture because it showed their child. If you have a public wall, you should be careful about putting the pictures of children not your own up (in fact – even your OWN child), nefarious people use such photos for not nice things, like kiddie porn shots.

  21. Jeannie Luna says:

    I have posted tons of Special Oly. photos of my guys including Area & State Games & never had a problem. I will say to all what I say in my house …Stop, Listen, Think … Before you open your mouth … in this case type … with no intent of being rude.
    Most likely a FB Friend did the flag vs FB discriminating. By jumping to the conclusion it was meant as a negative are we not in essence then doing what we so rightly ask others not to do to our loved ones? Judging without all the information.

  22. Bag Lady says:

    Explain the error in more detail Facebook. I would assume any information is reviewed before it goes out, so explain again Facebook. Was there any nudity, any rude acts, some beatings. O I that’s right just a bunch of kids having fun at the Special Olymipics. My reason can be given what and why it happened, Let’s just hope it does not again. Bag Lady

  23. Steven and Holly Tischer says:

    In 2011, we reported Facebook for discriminating against individuals with Down syndrome and for violating their very own terms and conditions to use Facebook. We sent the big wigs a letter signed by over 1500 members of the Down syndrome community about the hate being allowed on the social media site. Clearly, nothing changed! The volume of hate speech on Facebook is outstanding but the sheer volume geared at individuals with Ds is even more ridiculous. . . . The fact that they blocked this mother’s account, told her to remove photos of her child participating in the Special Olympics, an Internationally known event and again showing their blatant dislike for and discrimination against individuals with Down syndrome just goes to show that Facebook does NOT care about anyone but themselves and the almighty dollar!!! Boo Hiss to Facebook! We stand on the side of right and this mom is right on in our book!!! ~HOOAH!!!

  24. aeylias says:

    I understand i am a disabled kid and get blocked by FB for stuff I do not do–it happens at least 3 times a week.

    My page on super smash comics also wont let me post or add new stuff–I feel like this is not an accident either.

  25. Serenity says:

    Some of you are saying that perhaps another parent saw a photo with their child in it and did not want that particular photo put in the album. This is a very possible scenario. However, why not COMMUNICATE with the other mother, let her know you don’t want your child to be visible in the photo, ask the other mother to either take down THAT ONE photo OR blur out/photoshop out your child and be done with it. Why flag the photo as inappropriate when it is not? Seems a childish way to prevent your child from appearing in a picture, which is exactly why I lean toward the malicious troll flagging the photo to be an arse.

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