I've written before on The Geek Parent (where this article first appeared) about how parents should never post pictures of their kids on Facebook (read that article here and The Washington Post also has this great article on why this should be on your social media list of “no-nos"). But it goes further than just Facebook. Another issue, this time shedding light on Instagram, has been discovered:
THE PRACTICE OF ROLE-PLAYING WITH PHOTOS OF CHILDREN THAT ARE STOLEN FROM SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
Here's how it works:
Social media users, many of them teenage girls, steal images of babies and kids off the Internet (primarily off Instagram), give the children new names and claim that the kids are theirs. Others comment on the photo as the new “parent” gives details of the child's life with some obsessing over breast-feeding and potty training. Individuals even pretend to be virtual adoption agencies where prospective “parents” can request babies and kids they'd like to adopt (for example, “I'm looking for a little 5-year boy, with olive skin who is of slight build and is feisty.”). The fake adoption agency then finds the person a photo, without the permission of the child's real parents.
SOME DEVIANT ROLE-PLAYERS INDULGE IN FANTASIES ABOUT PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE
Sure, many of the comments on the photos are innocuous (“Aww, how cute!”), however, some of the role-players are downright disturbing. The website EssentialBaby.com reported that one Canadian mother found pictures of her baby in a role-playing game and comments were about how the child looked “ugly and disabled.” It gets worse. Some deviant role-players indulge in fantasies about physical and sexual abuse.
So think your photos are safe because of your security settings? Think again. Most IT security people agree that there's only one way to truly ensure that your Internet content stays safe: don't put it out there in the the first place!
THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE SURE YOUR PHOTOS ARE SAFE IS TO NOT UPLOAD THEM TO THE INTERNET IN THE FIRST PLACE
To read more about the practice of role-playing with stolen baby photos, read this article from FastCompany.com which also gives Instagram's response to this truly creepy practice.
Note: The Geek Parent's Editor, Kat Mahoney, left a fascinating comment to my article: