In March 2018, an GMC Yukon plunged off a cliff in Northern California. The vehicle belonged to Jennifer and Sarah Hart, the white parents of six adopted black children.
The family died in the crash. One child, Devote Hart, remains listed as missing, although he is presumed dead. Investigators have since said they believe Jennifer Hart purposefully drove the SUV off the cliff.
The podcast Broken Harts, produced by Glamour magazine and How Stuff Works, investigates the story behind the headlines and the happy family photos and commentary Jennifer Hart incessantly posted on social media.
Broken Harts goes deeper than your typical true crime story in exploring the forces that brought the Harts to their terrible end. It shows how Jennifer Hart used social media to maximum effect to create the illusion of a progressive, mixed-race family. A couple of her carefully staged images went viral. While her online followers believed what they saw and read, the family moved across the country, dogged by accusations of abuse. By the time the Harts settled in their final home in Woodland, Wash., the children were homeschooled and were rarely seen outside the house. Neighbors saw things that were disturbing but were reluctant to interfere for reasons the show explores.
The eight-episode podcast also delves into the foster care situation the children came from and raises questions about racial equality when struggling relatives must compete with willing adoptive parents.
While Broken Harts is a sad story, it reveals an important truth: Social media tells a one-sided story and our willingness to take that at face value is very dangerous.