Obamacare website model defends herself against “cyberbullying”

The one-time face of Healthcare.gov speaks out against her Internet harassers

Published November 13, 2013 2:50PM (EST)


According to a new report from ABC News, the identity of the woman who once was the face of the federal government's troubled Healthcare.gov website is no longer such a mystery.

Speaking to ABC News on the condition that she only be identified as "Adriana," a permanent resident originally from Colombia and the former face of Obamacare's federal exchange website revealed previously unknown details on how her photo came to such prominence, as well as the "cyberbullying" she says she's endured in the weeks since.

On the question of how her face became the first thing early users of Healthcare.gov saw (she's since been replaced by four icons representing different ways to register), Adriana told ABC News that she reached out to a contact at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency tasked with unfurling Obamacare, about a deal in which Adriana would get free photos taken of herself and her family on the condition that the photos could then be used by the government to advertise Obamacare.

Ever since, however, Adriana complains she's been on the receiving end of "cyberbullying," by those frustrated with Healthcare.gov's technical failures.

"They have nothing else to do but hide behind the computer," she told ABC. "They're cyberbullying."

More from ABC News:

Though she is eligible for healthcare through the ACA, Adriana says she hasn't signed up for it, and is neither in favor nor against it.

She said that while she knew her photo would be used on the healthcare.gov website, she was stunned at the negative reception.

"Like I said it was shocking. It was upsetting. It was sad. We were having a hard day when we read all this," she said. "And in a way, I'm glad that my son is not old enough to understand, because you know whatever happens to you, it hurts them too."

About two weeks ago, her photo was removed from the site and replaced by several icons. "That was a relief," she said.

"They took the picture down. I wanted the picture down, and they wanted the picture down. I don't think anybody wanted to focus on the picture."

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

MORE FROM Elias Isquith

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Abc News Cyberbullying Healthcare.gov Healthcare Reform Obamacare