Monday 20 August 2018

'We're trying to protect the kids' - Jason Corbett's sister says tackling social media giants over pictures of children like 'fighting a ghost'

Molly Martens, who, along with her father, Thomas Martens, murdered her husband Jason Corbett. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Molly Martens, who, along with her father, Thomas Martens, murdered her husband Jason Corbett. Photo: Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A WOMAN whose brother was brutally murdered in the United States has challenged the Government to crack down on the monitoring of social media giants as she warned that trying to have digital rules enforced was like “fighting a ghost”.

Tracey Corbett Lynch warned said she didn’t want any other family to endure the nightmare of seeing images of children deliberately used via social media platforms as weapons in “a nasty campaign of emotional harassment”.

She waged a three-year battle to get photos of her murdered brother Jason’s two children, Jack and Sarah, removed from the Facebook page of the woman who orphaned them, Molly Martens (34).

However, within hours of Facebook disabling Ms Martens’ page last month – following an Irish Independent story – images of her brother’s children were then posted on pages of the murderer’s US relatives and supporters.

In one case, a photo was reposted four times after Facebook had warned that it should be removed.

Ms Corbett Lynch said: “Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Data Protection Minister Pat Breen need to do something about this. All these social media giants are based in Dublin and yet, from my experience, it is like trying to fight a ghost to get anything done about offending images,” she said.

“These so-called rules to protect children online are a total farce. My experience is that Facebook is a paper tiger that has been totally outmanoeuvred by an American housewife.”

Ms Martens and her father, retired FBI agent Thomas Martens, were convicted in North Carolina last August of the second-degree murder of Jason Corbett (39).

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

Prosecutors alleged that Mr Corbett was drugged and then attacked by Ms Martens and her father while he was asleep in bed and helpless.

Ms Corbett Lynch worked for two years to support the North Carolina prosecution. She also won custody and guardianship of the two children in the US, something that which infuriated Ms Martens.

It took Tracey almost a full year after the murder conviction to have Ms Martens’ Facebook page, with images of the children, removed.

Ms Corbett Lynch commented: “It has been a three-year nightmare, trying to protect the children and get their photos removed from these pages. Just when we thought it was all over, it starts up all over again.”

Facebook insisted that it took the matter very seriously.

The US tech giant is now vigorously reviewing all dealings that the social media firmit has had with the Lynch and Corbett families since 2015.

A number of images cited have been removed – as requested by the Corbett family – and Ms Martens’ Facebook page has also been disabled.

But Ms Corbett Lynch said the Government needed to do more.

She said: “I have the utmost respect for Taoiseach Varadkar and I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly with the children recently.

“I know that he shares my social media concerns.”

Irish Independent

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