A girlfriend and I were having coffee when she asked for some advice about stolen baby photos on Instagram. After digging deeper I realized something disturbing was happening. My goal for writing this blog is to create awareness and provide extra ways you can protect yourself and your family from creepers on Instagram.
So what I found was quite creepy--actually it is really creepy and potentially dangerous. Apparently some Instagram users are creating anonymous accounts and stealing photos. The anonymous users engage in role-play (#babyrp) scenarios with others who are interested. The photos used include babies, expectant momma’s belly bumps and topics include putting these babies up for adoption, creating unusual (creepy) scenarios, and pretending the stolen photos belong to them. I cannot account for the intent of the users, but what I do know is I do not want my private photos used in this manner. In addition, photos hashtagged with #babyrp also include other disturbing hashtags like #killingrp, #openforboysrp, #torturerp, #abuserp, #dirtyrp--I think you get the picture.
If you’re like me, you don’t want to stop using Instagram or any other social media outlets because it is a great way to stay connected to friends, family, & followers. Here are the 6 steps I use on my own account to protect my images.
Tip 1: Set your profile to private and be selective on who you allow to follow you. This is probably the best preventative measure you could take to protect your account. Setting your account to private hides all of your photos, except for those who follow you AND you approve or deny follow requests.
Tip 2: If your account has not been private, I encourage you to go through your list of followers. If you find any creepers--block them. I haven’t found a way to delete someone once they’re approved and users are not notified when you’ve blocked them. Identifying role-play accounts isn’t too difficult. Comments attached to illicit posts typically include a biography listing the baby age, name, likes and dislikes. The biggest give away is that these photos are full of role-play hashtags.
Tip 3: Turn off the location services on your phone for Instagram. I take this a step further by turning off location settings for all my camera/photo/social media related apps.
Tip 4: Use discretion regarding the types of photos you post to deter creepers. Popular photos used for role-play tend to include a singular person, show (innocent) partial nudity, and are higher quality/clear photos. A large portion of the photos I found also include shots where the viewer can easily make eye contact with the person in the image.
Tip 5: Never post photos that show someone where you live or that you’re away from home. Post vacation photos after you’re back home and crop photos or use blur tools to remove any location identifiers.
Tip 6: If you’re a business owner, blogger, or just don’t want to keep your profile private you can still protect your photos from being stolen. While researching for the blog I noticed watermarked photos are typically not used by these fictitious users/accounts. Download an app like iWatermark and put your Instagram username on your photos.
I encourage you to share this blog post with anyone you know who uses Instagram and if you have any questions, comment on the blog or on the Instagram (@lindseyvrivera) post for this blog.
Happy & safe sharing!