Instagram Moms, Is Your Account Private? Well, It Should Be

Instagram: there is yet another online predatory behavior, please beware of the graphic information of this must-read

*This post was really really difficult to write because of the things I had to share but it’s important to raise concern and promote online accountability.

My favorite social media has to be Instagram for its appeal to have a quick glance into your friends’ lives and continuing on with yours. Once I left Facebook for good in the spring of 2012, I found a great community of like-minded moms that I interact with daily much like previous Facebook activity but without the judgement and shaming. You would never expect even something as innocent as a photo-sharing app could make you reevaluate your kids’ online presence. That changed when I was alerted about the seedy underground world of baby role-playing.

This isn’t the first time I heard of baby role-playing on Instagram because I remember seeing it before and still kept my account public thinking nothing of it. From my minor investigative skills, I just deduced it was lame teenagers using stolen baby pictures to pretend to be parents to other people’s kids after stealing photos and post up on their own accounts. A “virtual adoption,” if you will. The “innocence” of baby adoptions, ironic in and of itself, is taken far into the world of promoting abuse against children and violating their family’s memories. This is about sexual baby role-play. Once I saw the screen shots of some discovered role playing account, I dug deeper. I read the comments. I checked the followers list and read those comments. I cried. My heart hurt and for my children who are prominently featured on my Instagram. For every photo of myself or non-children, there are probably four of just my kids. I quickly made my account private and hastily declared I’m removing every picture of my kids ever, including this blog.

I hate to say it but I’m a little torn. I feel so sick this is happening to innocent children and I made a decision to prevent that as best I can but what is my blog if I have to hold back from my “real” life? That sounds selfish to me. I feel selfish and vain and responsible if my kids’ lives were used in inappropriate contexts like the victims to baby role play on Instagram. As I raced to my computer to delete every picture of my kids in any and every blog post, I couldn’t go through with it. It’s not Instagram, I questioned. It’s not like I’m popular enough for someone go to my blog and crop out my babies pictures for their role-play accounts. Does it even matter? I also questioned the motives behind why I blog and how I decide to share that. I hate that there are very sick people, who do victimize innocence but I also realize that’s the responsibility I take up when I share my life. I hold myself accountable for making the decision to share my kids stories, emotions, faces, bodies to the rest of the world when they haven’t provided that consent to do so. I take that hypocritical epiphany to be a much more mindful blogger and Instagram mom so I can protect and prioritize my kids as kids instead of online (visual) content.

How do you handle your online presence?

*Update: the accounts that were brought to my attention have since been deleted but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new accounts being made or promoted. Sign the petition to try and stop these accounts but as long as they have a smart phone and your public account, they can take your photo as easy as clicking a button.

You can find me tweeting my hatred for pants on twitter, filtering the shit outta my kids’ mugs on Instagram, pinning food I’ll never make on Pinterest, and being a wannabe grownup on Google+

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27 thoughts on “Instagram Moms, Is Your Account Private? Well, It Should Be

      • They should be put in JAIL! What are the links to their pages? I want to complain to Instagram. It’s owned by Facebook. They are corporate so they should take it seriously because it affects their bottom line. God how can the world be full of such sick assholes? Btw I asked to follow you on Instagram. I’m real I swear! 😝

  1. My heart still hurts and my soul reels. It disgust me and chills me to my core. To know that some sick person, people could, would, do this… I have blocked most of my accounts that I mention my son on and my Instagram is blocked. My twitter is still public but I don’t post his pictures there. I went on to warn other mothers and fathers.. Out of the 306 I contacted only 6 responded or cared. Some posted subliminal messages about paranoia, and “in the digital age it’s inevitable”, or best one yet “snopes said it was photoshopped”. I became more disgusted. Especially knowing that my sons photos are physically in the hands of some stranger.. About two weeks ago some one stole his photos out of the frame on his grandmothers desk at her work. Now this?! My stomach will never settle. I’m going back to MMA training and I am buying another gun.

    • Someone stole your baby’s picture?! That is absolutely disgusting. I’m so sorry that happened to you. It’s one thing to be violated like that online, but a completely different matter when your (or your moms) physical presence isn’t enough to scare off creeps.

      • Thank you. I absolutely agree! It was so surreal when she told me.She came over and said calmly “I need to talk to you.” I automatically became uncomfortable. She says “I need more copies of the pictures of sumo.” So I started to calm down and then she lowered the boom. “Someone stole his pictures out of the frame on my desk at work.” I stared at her for a few minutes and laughed because she is a teacher. I asked “you sure it wasn’t one of your students?” She said “No. If it was a student they wouldn’t have chose which picture to steal and put the rest back.” I lost it quietly. Like who does that? So some random person is just walking around with pictures of my son, doing god knows what with them like it’s ok. I couldn’t sleep that night.. Out of sheer fear of where they might be, or who they might be with. Worrying about if I am going to be in the street and someone tries to snatch my child.. Living in that type of fear is something I refuse to do. So I will go back to arming myself as I did before he was born. In addition, now that online has become such a hostile environment, I will also be censoring how much he is displayed there. I agree with Laotian that it sucks as mommy bloggers we have to figure out a way to keep these things from happening when leading such a public life no matter if for profit or for sheer interest in sharing your experiences with others. However, I will do what I got to do when it comes to my cub.

      • Trust me.. I understand completely. Because of it, now when I take him out, I always have his face covered. No one can see him. If he is in the front wrap carrier.. I wear a scarf purposely to bundle over his face. I shouldn’t have to do this! I’m not a celebrity! Yet here we are. Then his personality makes people just stop and interact with him. I’m talking about harden thugs (that I am sure if his kid wasn’t strapped to me would have beaten me, raped me, robbed me and left me for dead..) Seem to melt into decent freaking human beings! People stop on the street, stop their cars, stop walking all to see him. It’s amazing and now very uncomfortable. I don’t know you, and because of this I now can’t be nice to you even though you may not mean me and my son any harm. I still can’t take that chance, yah know?

      • Thankfully I have a crap load of copies, but I told her to take the rest home and got her a picture book to keep in her purse. This way no one can take them unless they break into where she keeps her coat and things. God forbid they do and that’s the only thing they take… Know I will be at every police precinct between New Jersey and New York.

      • Nope because the whole school loves her and it isn’t a fake love either. The students don’t wanna leave at the end of the day. The faculty will call and make sure she is good if she is even one moment late. However, she did mention the district switched cleaning crews. So I’m thinking that may be a start if anything else happens.

  2. I enjoy reading your blog, I’m not much of one to
    Comment though, I just sit back and read and take it all in. My children are older, but I love reading the birth stories of all these new babies.. Really wish I knew then, from
    Reading everyone’s comments and
    Blogs, what I’ve learned from
    All the new moms I have come across on IG! I have 4 kids, had 4 c-sect, and breastfed all my kids. But would have loved to have had a home birth, or tandem fed.. My drs always
    Told me it would harm the growing baby if I
    Continued to BF while pregnant. But I just wanted to say thank you for the new knowledge, it will be something I can hopefully pass along to my daughter, and my sons wives. I think I was one of the
    People deleted, I don’t see your pics anymore, but that’s ok, I understand where you are coming from and one of the reasons mine has stayed private. Your children are adorable and best of luck to you and your family! 🙂

    • Hi Cherie,

      I was amazed to hear about doctors poor advice to nursing pregnant moms. I’m fortunate to believe in my body’s instinct to continue nursing through pregnancy. I’m glad you’re finding this info useful to help your loved ones! 🙂

      So sorry about the deletion; I did a mass delete using this app to filter those who didn’t “follow or comment” because I honestly feared there could be creepers aka ghost followers. All this made me so scared and worried that I wanted an honest following to keep them accounted. Unfortunately I may also limit the kids on here too. I’d love for you to follow the kids again on my Instagram now that you took the time to share about yourself with me. It means a lot.

      • My username is momma_mitch… I’m also amazed to find
        Out how different the west side of the US is
        The east! I’m from NJ, I love hearing what goes on across the world
        From me 🙂 thank you for your reply!

      • Thanks, Cherie! It is a little different, how so is over on the East? A childhood friend recently moved to NJ from WA and I see her life over there through, of course, Instagram and it is intriguing. I am interested to see how my other followers from UK and Laos live too.

  3. Oh no really? I just joined Instagram a few months ago. I’m still learning but the only way I would upload pics of my son is if my profile could be private. Thank you sooo much for sharing your story. I would never of known:-( there are some sick ass muthaf’rrrs (excuse my language). that’s just sick and there should be some sort of law regarding that. Ugh I’m disgusted, but I do enjoy reading your blog.

    • Thankfully, it didn’t directly happen with my kids but just seeing other babies (babies!!!!) on those accounts were disturbing and the parents may not have had a clue.

      Thanks for reading, Stephanie. I enjoy your interaction here. Means a lot! xoxo

  4. I can totally relate. When my husband’s fb page was screen shot with my son as the cover page I seriously felt like something was take from me. I took those pictures of my son, I made the the 3 pic collage to be admired, not to be captioned with something so ugly and negative as what that crazy girl put. To think that she still probably has that photo in her phone. it pisses me off. They really need to put a stop to it.

    • That’s horrible. Being online is a double-edge sword, especially for attached stay-at-home moms who don’t get adult-mom interactions day in and day out and seek commiseration or friendship through everything. That then we can’t even share the babies we have learned to grow to love.

  5. Already signed it. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! My IG is 100% private now. I can’t believe there are people in this world who would do these horrible things! It makes me sad and disgusted 😞

    • To be honest, I don’t think the petition will do much because it doesn’t clearly address the real problem: informing people of the real risk of being public. I think the best option is for IP addresses to be traceable once pictures are revealed that are not theirs? I dunno.

  6. I am so torn. I used to be very ‘protected’ online. Then, last year, I became more and more open to sharing my life and pictures of myself, my son, and my husband. I have to sit on this and think. What are you going to do different? Some concrete examples of your thought process on what you will and will not post would help (don’t I sound like such a teacher). Some are obvious to me, like no bath time pics, but besides that, what other ways are you protecting your kids’ online?

So, what do you think?

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