An Oregon woman has been the victim of an online hoax that unfortunately made the rounds on several media outlets, including BabyGaga.com. Amber Lee Hughes, 31, of Cottage Grove says that last Monday, an ad for babysitting services bearing her likeness and phone number had been posted on Reddit.
The ad caught the attention of several news sites since it stated that Amber, listed in the ad as Debra Allen, was offering her childcare services to “white kids only.” The image was upvoted more than 45,000 times on the Reddit subreddit r/trashy. It also appeared on Twitter and Facebook and was included in several news articles, including one titled, “Babysitting Ad Goes Viral When Sitter Requests “White Kids Only,” which appeared on this site.
It turns out that Hughes did not create the ad nor is she a babysitter. In fact, she doesn’t even know where the ad was posted, though she suspects an ex-boyfriend may be behind the hoax. “I’m currently working toward bettering my life,” says Hughes, who is currently attending Lane Community College, where she hopes to enter the culinary arts program and become a pastry chef.
Hughes has been profoundly upset by the false claims since she is not a racist. “I don’t care what skin color you have — we all have the same feelings, and this kind of stuff is just mean and rude. If I hear someone say something racist, I look at them like, ‘Really?’ I love kids. They’re innocent little people just trying to figure things out. They don’t need that kind of stuff,” she says.
Since the fake flyer has gone viral, Hughes says she has been harassed online, received threats and has been forced to change her phone number. “It hurts. I’m mad, I’m angry and I just want it to stop.” It also hasn’t helped that Reddit users sought to link the fake ad to Oregon’s purported history of racism, which by no means is unique in the United States.
At BabyGaga, we recognize our error in publishing this story and also in contributing to Hughes’ distress. We often source stories from Reddit because they can provide insight into important online conversations and offer an interesting forum for debate. However, we regret having sourced this fake ad and deeply apologize for our error in this particular case.
Although we attempted to follow up on the article the day that it was posted, we were unaware of news coverage provided the day after our story appeared and failed to see the updates stating the ad was a hoax until August 15, when we were alerted by a follower via Facebook messenger. We would like to sincerely apologize to Ms. Hughes and our readers and will work to be more discerning and thorough in the future.