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Stolen Baby Photos

This may fall under the most unnerving things I’ve read today:

“The practice of ‘baby role-playing.’ Participants generally hijack new parents’ photos and use them on Instagram to enact fantasies about adoption and basic childcare tasks—though sometimes it gets much, much darker.”

So it’s a role-playing game.  Except with photos of actual humans who did not consent to become part of this game.  As in, baby humans.  Like maybe your baby human.

And while the article points out that the majority of “players” in the games tend to be teenage girls, I’m willing to make a little wager that the assumption in some people’s minds is that this is an outlet for infertile women*.  You know, the same infertile women that people assume want to steal their child.

So just to break this down for you:

  • You post pictures of your baby online.  So cute!
  • Someone saves a copy of that picture of your baby to their hard drive.  Oh.
  • Someone uploads that picture to their Instagram feed for a fantasy role playing game.  Really?
  • Other people join in and “adopt” your child so they can play a role playing game staring your child.  Crap.
  • Sometimes they’re just feeding and burping your kid.  Why?
  • Other times, they’re pretending they’re abusing or killing your kid.  What?
  • And this has been going on for a while.

Fast Company has a longer article** on the phenomenon.

It’s not shocking in the sense that we all know that anything we upload on the Internet — even for just an hour before taking it down — has the potential to be taken by another person.  What is shocking is that there are probably people I walk past on a daily basis — people who look as normal as pie, walking around the food store, checking out library books, sitting next to me at a restaurant — who do this.  They steal someone else’s photos and make a game out of it.

I don’t know why humans continuously shock me.  But they do.

* Though it is an infertile woman who finally gave birth to triplets who had her images stolen and uploaded to Instagram in the Fast Company article.  The images were taken from her infertily-turned-pregnancy-turned-parenting blog.

** Word of advice, don’t read the comments.


1 Sharon { 09.23.14 at 1:41 pm }

The depravity of people never ceases to amaze me.

2 Jessica { 09.23.14 at 1:46 pm }

That is the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a while.

3 earthandink { 09.23.14 at 2:44 pm }

I actually believe this should be illegal. (Well, and it actually is copyright infringement.)

This is beyond creepy. There are so many levels to the awful and disturbing that I don’t have a clue where to begin with it.

4 Amber { 09.23.14 at 6:29 pm }

This definitely creeps me out. But then, I am one of those people that shares a ton of pictures via Facebook, Instagram, and my blog. Oy. I guess I could be in trouble, but I LIKE sharing pictures! I also like seeing pictures that others share as well. It seems like a lose/lose situation.

5 Queenie { 09.23.14 at 10:06 pm }

[In my best cantankerous old woman voice]: And that is why you don’t put pictures of your kids on the internet.

The first time I ever walked across a prison (for professional reasons–not personal!), I was struck by how normal so many of the people looked. Attractive, unattractive, fat, thin, super-hot. . .just like the world outside. I was probably in my mid-20’s at the time, but it was such an eye-opening experience to realize that, hey wait!, bad guys look just like good guys. It seems rather obvious now, but I thought (and I think many people still think) that people who do bad things look like people who do bad things. But they don’t (mostly).

6 TasIVFer { 09.23.14 at 10:25 pm }

Yes, it creeps me out. Yes, I share a lot of photos online – I don’t live on the same continent as my family. Yes, I don’t understand people. People seem to be able to turn *anything* into an exerise in depravity.

7 Suzanna Catherine { 09.23.14 at 10:28 pm }

Words fail me. 🙁

8 torthuil { 09.23.14 at 11:40 pm }

Well, that’s just weird. People are are weird. But it does add to my resolve to not post photos of our child online (or only on password-protected site) and makes me glad that I did not have a “social media” pregnancy.

9 josey { 09.24.14 at 12:34 am }

The Fast Company article was actually written by an IF blog friend of mine. Just…creepy. And I’m totally someone who posts pics of my children online all the time. Why do people have to be such assholes?

10 A. { 09.24.14 at 6:09 am }

I do find this shockingly creepy, but it’s also pretty obvious that you put your kid’s photos at risk by posting them on the internet.

11 Tiara { 09.24.14 at 7:33 am }

This is disturbing…but more sadly, I am not surprised.

12 andy { 09.24.14 at 7:42 am }

I have no words…………..

13 Lexy { 09.24.14 at 7:51 am }

This is seriously scary. This is one of the reasons I chose not to post photos of my son on my blog.

14 Valery Valentina { 09.24.14 at 8:42 am }

After reading this blog post I was going to click over and learn. After reading the comments here I won’t; I’m creeped out enough. Thanks for the reminder to not put anything on the web that is worth losing (to me)

15 kate { 09.24.14 at 10:22 pm }

I don’t want to read the comments or the article. Too many comments over the years along those lines from people. As if my inability to reproduce leaves me psychologically primed to jump on any chance to play house. *shudder*

16 nursecaffey { 09.25.14 at 10:42 am }

Do you want to hear about another creepy thing? I’m a pediatric home health RN and I was researching small adult diapers. I clicked on a review and saw comments like ‘most baby-like’ and great absorbancy even when I’m out shopping’. I started to wonder why a person who could walk would need a diaper when a lightbulb went off- these were not disabled people but Adult-babies. I had wandered into a site where people who wanted to be babies reviewed products. OMG.

17 Geochick { 10.07.14 at 6:14 pm }

Just when I was succumbing to the lure of posting more pics of my kid and eventually both kids. Um. NO

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