63°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

The dark side of posting family photos online

Many parents love to share pictures of their little ones online so that family and friends can see how they are growing up. But unfortunately grandmas and your best friends aren’t the only people on the internet. There are some scary people out there who want to use those cute snapshots of your children for their own purposes. Here are just some of the ways your children’s photos are being used online and why you should think twice before posting your child’s photos for the whole world to see.

Baby-role playing

A new trend on social media, baby-role playing involves users posting a photo of a baby or child they find online and pretending the photo is of their child. This has especially become popular on Instagram, but it crops up on other social media sites as well. Some of these users are creating entire fictional families as they pretend to be the parent of a child or children who aren’t really theirs. They post about things the baby is doing or how cute they are, and then their followers play along by commenting on the photos. There are even Instagram accounts that will post a photo of a child with his or her made-up information, pretending the child is available for adoption. Do a search for hashtags like #babyrp, #kidrp, #openrp, or #adoptionrp and you will see thousands of these posts. And while there is no actual physical danger to your child if someone uses one of your photos for role-playing, it’s still disturbing to think someone might be digitally kidnapping your child.

Child pornography

Innocent family photos can also be taken from blogs, social media accounts, or other photo-sharing sites and photoshopped to give pedophiles a thrill. Other times the photos themselves aren’t doctored, but are posted with other inappropriate content, captions or comments that lead to links of child pornography. One mother in Utah recently found pictures of her two young daughters together with captions implying extremely disturbing situations. Especially enticing are photos where a user can make eye-contact with their victims or where there is partial nudity, like a bath or diaper photo.

Advertising

Would you want your child’s picture used to promote a product without your permission? Unfortunately, some advertisers will take photos they find on the internet and use them in ad campaigns in another part of the world. That’s what happened to one family whose photo was used in a store ad in the Czech Republic. It also horrified another mom when a picture of her daughter, who has Down Syndrome, was stolen from her blog and used to advertize a prenatal testing kit. It happened to a teenager from Texas who had her photo snapped at a church activity and ended up on a billboard in Australia and a family in Indonesia whose children ended up in a newspaper ad in Malaysia. Fortunately for all these people, someone spotted the ad and told them about it. But how many pictures are being used for ads that the people pictured never find out about? For all you know, your child could be on an ad somewhere right now.

Fake profiles

If you’ve spent any time on social media, you know there are a lot of profiles and accounts that are not real. These fake profiles are used for a number of different purposes, but it’s most often to scam other people. Those who create them often use stolen images because they are believable and give credence to their profiles. Which means your real photos could be used to make another profile seem real even though it is not. This issue is common enough that reporting an imposter account shows up in Facebook’s frequently asked questions. And unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do since all profile and cover photos on Facebook are public.

Memes

Post a funny picture of one of your children, and he or she might become an internet sensation. That’s what happened to one mom when she posted a picture of her daughter acting angry in a swing, and it turned into a viral meme. But even if some people thinks it’s funny, if it’s done without your permission, it’s no laughing matter. And once it’s out there, it’s pretty hard to delete something that has been shared by multiple users on multiple sites.

What can you do?

Does this all mean you should never post pictures of your children online or you should immediately delete every social media account you have? No! The odds of these things happening to your photos are still pretty slim when you consider the billions of social media users and photos out there. But it does mean you should be careful when posting photos and information about yourself and your children on the internet. Here are some ideas for protecting your photos and reducing the risk of them being misused.

  • Make it private – If you’re going to post pictures of your children that you don’t want people using for other purposes, you can make your accounts or your photos private. Each site has it’s different ways of doing this, but here’s an infographic that tells you how to do it on the most popular social media sites. Also make sure your blog is private if you are planning on posting photos of your children.
  • Be careful about who you share with – In addition to going private, sites like Facebook and Flickr allow you to choose the audience for your photos. You don’t have to share everything with all of your friends. You can share pictures of your children with only your closest friends and family.
  • Watermark your photos – Placing a watermark on the photos you post online can help you prove images are yours if they are stolen. It also discourages people from stealing your photos because it’s more work for them to remove a watermark. There are several low-cost apps available that watermark photos.
  • Don’t share your location – Never post a picture of your child that identifies your location. Turn off location settings on your phone and don’t post pictures that would help someone identify where you are or where you live.
  • Post low-resolution photos – Posting lower-resolution versions of your photos makes it hard for someone to enlarge and print your pictures, which makes them unusable for things like advertisements.
  • Be selective about the photos you share – Photos of children are much less likely to be stolen by predators or baby-role players if they include other people, if the child isn’t looking straight into the camera, and if the children are fully clothed.

Even with these precautions, there is still a chance that your photos could be misused, so always think twice before you post anything that you wouldn’t want stolen.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Shock program rids your pool of yellow algae

If your pool water has gone from clear to yellow, you probably have yellow algae. The pool store will have chemicals to treat the water. When used with super-chlorination, products such as Yellow Out will kill yellow algae.