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. 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.
At BabyGaga, we often source stories from Reddit because they can incite important conversations and offer an interesting forum for debate. We apologize for our oversight in this particular case. While we did work to follow up on the article the day that it was posted, other news coverage was provided the day after our story, and we had not seen the updates stating that the ad was a hoax until August 15th, when we were alerted by a follower via Facebook messenger. We would like to sincerely apologize to our audience and those impacted by this story, and issue a retraction of our original coverage. We have a more detailed post that has since been published which explains the details of this hoax.
The following is our original coverage, which we would like to keep in this post in an effort to be transparent with our audience and avoid covering up our mistake:
This babysitting ad went viral as internet users slammed it for being racist. A photo of a flyer that was posted in a local neighborhood blew up on Reddit. With over 43,000 upvotes and more than 100 comments, it’s clear that people are angry at the ad.
Parents are already very cautious when finding a babysitter. Usually, teenagers or young adults in the community offer their services cheaper than professional sitters. Whether a parent chooses to trust a neighbor or pay more for a professional service, trust is a key factor in the transaction. If the sitter displays racist, mean, or aggressive behavior, then they could potentially pose a threat to the child.
This babysitter posted an ad with the caption “white kids only” on her local bulletin board. The flyer had her photo, a statement claiming she is licensed and certified, and tear-off tabs with her number on it. 20 hours ago, a user posted a photo of the ad on Reddit, and the post blew up online.
Even though the full phone number is censored, sharp-eyed users have concluded that this babysitter resides in eastern or southern Oregon by identifying the area code of the number. While many were quick to conclude that this explains a lot, other users defended the state. One user even claiming that this exclusivity of service based on race is illegal in Oregon. While racism is a horrible thing to witness, commenters also pointed out that this is a good thing. Especially for non-white families, parents know upfront that if they choose to hire her, then they’ll be hiring someone who is biased towards white people.
The top comment also points out the bright side of this ad: at least people know why not to hire her. As those who replied to this comment pointed out, none of the tabs (at least as of posting the photo) have been taken by anyone. With that warning, parents can avoid hiring someone who could potentially mistreat their child while they’re away. Maybe more babysitting ads should be as open and honest as this one.