“If you google my son, you will find the most horrible things – maybe for the rest of his life”
Mother Linda: “At first I did not know where to turn, where to begin”. At the police station I was first told I had to file a report online, but this turned out to be impossible. Eventually I was able to file a police report in a different city – where my story was taken seriously. A friend had to assist me because I was too emotional to be coherent.
It may have been a mistake to use our real names when we posted the request online to remove Freek's picture from the Internet because that is how they discovered his real name. But by then I was willing to try anything. At a certain moment I even considered calling De Wereld Draait Door (a television show) and tell all. Fortunately I did not; it would have made things even worse.
The worst part was that I could not find help anywhere. There was no phone number to call, no e-mail address to write to and explain what had happened. I spent nights filing online reports of pictures that had been posted on the Internet without receiving so much as a reply from those websites. I have not yet had any contact with a real person at Facebook or Twitter. And still you will find the most horrible things about my son if you google him.
I have written a letter to the public prosecutor in which I explained the impact this has on me. Freek can no longer use his own name on social media. I worry about the effect this will have in his new class. He has a striking hair colour, freckles and he is cross-eyed. Those are all things he can be bullied with although that has not happened yet. But what will happen in future? And what will happen if one of his new friends tags him?
Freek knows exactly what is happening to him. He wrote a letter to Neelie Kroes, which shows he knows what is going on. But he is able to hide it well I guess. He is resilient and cheerful. He absolutely refuses to change his name because he is proud of it he says, and we respect that. However, I do not think he fully realises all the implications this could have for him in future. My husband sometimes says I should not let it get to me as much as it does but I am very protective. I am determined to get all pictures removed from the Internet. I feel powerless to know that this is happening to my child while the person who did this just goes on with his life.
Extract from Freek's letter to Neelie Kroes
"I have a problem. My picture is being misused on Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites. This annoys me because I cannot have a Twitter account with my picture because it gets stolen. Nor can I get on Facebook or YouTube.
(…) My parents told me I may have to change my name officially but I REALLY DO NOT want that.
I just want to be able to use my real name on the Internet. May be you know a solution. I really hope you do."
Names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.