Virtual kidnapping of photos

Photos of children and babies are being stolen from social media.

A disturbing new internet trend could have people thinking twice before posting photos of their children and grandchildren online for the world to admire.

‘Virtual kidnapping’ is the phrase given to the trend where the photos of babies and young children are stolen and reposted onto social media by strangers, who claim the children as their own.

The trend has become a small subculture, comprising mostly of young women, who find and share photos and engage in role play. Using the hashtag #babyrp (baby role play), these people play a game of make-believe parenthood, discussing all manner of topics relating to the child, such as feeding, sleeping and baby health.

The pretend parents post the photos to websites such as Facebook and Instagram, with captions describing ‘their’ children and inviting others to comment. Facebook has said that the activity violates its standards, but will only remove the offending photo after the real owner has provided proof that the original belongs to them.

Another peculiar element of the trend is the websites that run as virtual adoption agencies. Those who operate the websites search the internet, looking for photos to steal and add to their agencies. Users can then bid to win their favourite photos, in an effort to build their perfect family.

This trend has sparked concern across the entire online social media community. Parents and grandparents are advised to be wary of posting photos of children to their accounts. There exists some grey area around the subject of digital theft, and policing of the issue is relatively tenuous.



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    22nd Jul 2015
    There are a lot of weirdos out there and I think this sort of role play is one step away from being depicted in an episode on TV's "Criminal Minds" - which, of course, is a shame. My wife is a Facebook member and gets quite a bit of enjoyment out of it, while I would rather stick pins in my eyes than read about others' personal lives, adventures, traumas, how badly they are affected by flatulence, etc, etc. The less personal information you put out there, no matter how safe the site may be, the better it is for your safety and security - and this is fact, not opinion. Good luck.
    22nd Jul 2015
    Total weirdos. They need help, badly.
    fish head
    22nd Jul 2015
    22nd Jul 2015
    Sounds crazy! I would hate to think my grandchildren's images became someone else's plaything. It has occurred to me that paedophiles could steal photos of kids too. Best to confine all sharing of photos to email only.

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