I definitely understand the impulse to blanket the Internet in photos of one's baby. I genuinely want to litter Pinterest in pictures of my infant in cute outfits, preferably with arty Instagram filters over her. But now I am terrified to do so, because according to Jezebel, people on the Internet are stealing baby photos posted on the Internet and reusing them in "baby role-playing."
The role-players will steal the pictures and then post them to their own Instagram accounts and claim the babies are their own. They sometimes enacting complicated adoption stories and playing out childcare by pretending to feed, diaper, swaddle, and discipline their fake babies, who are someone else's real babies.
It can be really creepy for a parent to see his or her actual baby being shown around on someone else's page. According to Fast Company, some accounts even pretend to be adoption agencies, and they let people role play with the "babies."
"Hi Caitlin, do you like flowers?" someone might ask.
"I wuv fwowers. Tey pwetty," the stolen "baby" might answer.
In addition to being way creepy, the phenomenon is also a little sad, because Fast Company reports that a lot of these role-players are teen and tween girls, who are apparently often come from difficult home situations and use the baby role-playing to act out a different family life.
The practice raises questions for mom bloggers out there, because while they might want to write about their parenting experiences, not a lot of people want to open themselves up to this. One woman told Fast Company that she was keeping a blog to share her struggles with infertility, and then it became a pregnancy blog. Then an Instagram user made off with her baby pictures.
“I was focused on sharing my story as part of a community with parents of preemies and infertility survivors,” the mom said. “I thought I was doing something good. It turns out I was putting my kids out there in a negative fashion. I still can’t even wrap my head around it.”
It's way creepy, and there's nothing Instagram will do about it. So I'm thinking of making my infant wear a ski mask in all family photos for the next 18 years, just to keep people on the Internet from stealing her.