herald

Thursday 15 November 2018

'Facebook took three years to erase Molly's photos of Jason's kids', sister reveals

Tracey Corbett Lynch
Tracey Corbett Lynch

The sister of Molly Martens' murder victim Jason Corbett has issued a personal appeal to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to tackle the "heartbreaking, cruel and exhausting process" people endure to get disputed photos removed from the platform.

Tracey Corbett Lynch has waged a three-year battle to get photos of her brother Jason's children removed from the Facebook page of the woman who orphaned them, Molly Martens.

The company has removed some, but not all, of the pictures.

"That has taken longer than the trial process itself in the United States - it is truly shocking," Tracey said.

"For three years we have been trying to get Facebook to remove photographs of the children from Molly's page. It has been a cruel and soul-destroying process. We are nothing if not determined and yet this has almost driven us to distraction. It has been a three-year nightmare trying to protect the children and get their photos removed from these pages."

Ms Martens and her father, retired FBI agent Thomas Martens, were convicted last August in North Carolina of the murder of Jason Corbett (39). They were charged with the murder a year earlier.

Mr Corbett, a Limerick native who lived in Davidson County, North Carolina, was beaten to death in the bedroom of his home with a brick and a metal baseball bat on August 2, 2015.

Ms Martens was his second wife after his first, Margaret 'Mags' Fitzpatrick, died from a tragic asthma attack in 2006. Ms Fitzpatrick was the mother of his children, Jack and Sarah. The Corbett family were appalled when Ms Martens began posting multiple photos of Jack and Sarah on her page in the two years before the trial.

Photographs of the children were also circulated on social media posts supporting the killer father and daughter duo.

"Jason's children and my family had been victimised by an online hate campaign by Molly Martens and her supporters for two years until she was finally convicted," Tracey said.

"Facebook provided the platform for this and repeatedly ignored not just my pleas but those of the public that supported protecting two innocent children from being used in an effort to evade justice."

Conviction

Tracey vigorously pursued Facebook to have all images of the children removed from Ms Martens's profile, but said she faced much bureaucracy.

"I had to provide their dates of birth, our guardianship documentation, evidence of the conviction in North Carolina as well as additional information requested at each turn by Facebook," she said.

"Eventually, we managed to get to their photo removal section and they demanded that we submit individual links for each photo of the children.

"When I started sending them the information they had demanded, they contacted me to say I was sending too much and if I continued doing it they would block me."

Facebook said it had launched an internal inquiry into the matter. An official said it took the issue very seriously and would vigorously review all dealings with the Lynch and Corbett families since 2015.

Tracey added: "Mark Zuckerberg is best known for co-founding and leading Facebook as its chairman and chief executive officer. He is also noted as a philanthropist promoting the welfare of others. However, as a parent and dad I ask that he considers my requests and pleas.

"This should not be allowed to happen."

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