A TOP local photographic agency had to revise a baby photo competition following concerns at claims cheating could have taken place.
Ciaran O’Neill had organised a competition to raise cash for Craigavon Hospital’s Neonatal Unit. But the method of voting had to be changed after 24 hours following claims fake email addresses could be used to vote.
People were asked to bring their babies, under four years old, to the William Street studio for a photo shoot costing just £5 - all of which is donated to the charity.
“We have raised £175 as quite a few people gave more than the £5. They picked out a photo that they liked and we sent them to a company who is organising the competition to put them up,” explained Ciaran.
Within hours of the competition going live on Facebook some children received between 500-700 votes.
Ciaran said that there is no evidence that anyone had cheated, however, to bring more confidence to the competition, they decided to change the format so people could only vote once via their Facebook account.
He explained that it had been pointed out to them that it was possible to make up false email addresses to vote under the previous format.
He said he was unsure if anyone had cheated and they would need to go through every email address and contact and verify them individually.
“I am hoping not to have to as it would mean hassling all the legitimate people who did vote and getting them to reply to it.”
Ciaran said they have employed an independent company to run the competition which specialises in apps for Facebook.
The competition opened on Monday and had to be relaunched on Tuesday lunchtime following the discovery of a possible means of cheating.
To vote now you must sign in via your Facebook account. “So there is only one vote per Facebook account,” said Ciaran.
He said some people had been very active in promoting certain children already.
“It was more to get rid of the possibility of cheating so everybody has confidence in the competition now,” said Ciaran who added that it didn’t cost anyone to vote but that some people had spent a lot of time on it.
“There is still two weeks left to vote,” he said.
“Thanks to everyone for bearing with us through the teething problems, we will be giving a 10x8 presentation print of the competition image to each of the competitors to say thanks,” said Ciaran.
And he revealed that many parents had said they would pay for the free prints with the cash going to the neonatal unit charity.
“That is very generous of them,” said Ciaran.
There are 22 children in the competition with a prize of £1,000 to spend in Ciaran O’Neill Photography on enlargements and prints.
To vote go to https://apps.facebook.com/ciaranoneillvoting