Passionate About Fort Worth
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The Hidden Dangers of Posting Pictures of Your Children Online

I am grieving innocence at the hand of evil today. I am grieving how a mere stranger from across the globe can become the thief of joy for the unsuspecting innocent. I am deafened by the sneakiness of darkness and how it can so subtly creep into the lives of every human, especially children. The kind of sly, yet impeding evil, destined to turn what is pure into something meant for sin and perversion.

I am angry at my own naivety. I am angry at my stupidity in not heeding the intuition to have been more careful about what I post on my somewhat-private blog of our family’s adventures. For six years, I’ve been able to track basic analytics of my site to see what links were clicked most often, where people come from, what they were interested in, and if they downloaded any photos. I didn’t know a single face behind an IP address, but I knew what suspicious things to look for. Despite those efforts, my children became victims. 

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But the problem with my failed efforts to use caution when letting the world of the Internet into our life, even with moderate security settings, is that once that kind of evil enters, it cannot be undone. My awareness wasn’t fool-proof. You can’t get back what’s stolen. And when that is hundreds of pictures of your child in poses in which you saw joy and happiness, but suddenly you are forced to see those same images through the eyes of a pedophile, it’s hard to recover. 
 
We also learned this is exactly how the exploitation of the innocent child begins. We were told by the FBI that it is inundated daily with this very problem not just from blogs, but public Facebook and Instagram profiles as well. It starts with stealing photographs of children and selling them for a small amount to criminals who then transpose and photoshop the stolen pictures to the unthinkable and sell them for a larger profit, and, before you know it, your child’s face is marred forever.  
 
I am broken over this. I have unequivocally failed my job as the number one protector of my children. I am ashamed. I am humiliated. I am physically ill. How could I be so careless?
 
This is a hard story to share, but I am here to tell you our story to save you from this same pain. They say ignorance is bliss, but who wants to be ignorant when it comes to the safety and purity of your child? My children are not the first, nor are they the last to have pictures stolen and misused. 
 
So what can you do to prevent this from happening? These tips are obvious and simple, probably already things you know, but worth the reminder.    
 
Stay Private
 
Make sure photos of your children are always at the highest security setting on Facebook. Keep your Instagram account set to private and allow only friends. Watch for spamming on social media. We’ve all had it happen: Someone we are already friends with on Facebook adds us as a friend, and we accept him or her thinking he or she has made a new account, only to find his or her identity was stolen. In that five minute time frame, pictures are stolen. It happens that quickly, says the FBI. Keep your personal blogs well-secured. Whether it’s private or a great analytics widget, stay on top of who is traveling through your blog and what they are doing while they are visiting. 
 
Not All “Friends” Are Safe 
 
If you feel uncomfortable with a past co-worker or a friend from high school, don’t ignore your intuition. Even people who we think “would never,” might. Listen to your gut, and take privacy settings against these people who make you weary. What if it’s Uncle Mark, and you can’t just delete him? On Facebook, you can block him from seeing certain posts, so turn to utilizing creative ways to keep out those who make you uncomfortable. 
 
Be Aware of What You Post and How it Can Be Edited
 
Before blasting a picture on the Internet, think twice. There is no nice way of presenting this piece of advice. Is this something you would want shared and could it be photoshopped to something distasteful? Out of thousands of pictures on our family blog, it was swimsuits and lounging positions that were most desired. We don’t have to stop sharing these summer-filled shots, but being slightly more careful about them can’t hurt.
 
Suggestion: If you know you want to share a moment on social media, when taking the picture, try to orchestrate their pose with modesty in mind such as angles from the side or back, faces only, or action shots that can’t be easily transposed.  
 
Limit How Much We Share 
 
I know, I know. Being someone that had more than 2,000 pictures on her blog, more than 1,500 Instagram posts, and who knows how many Facebook photos, I am guilty here. This is simple, though. The less we share, the less vulnerable our families become. The truth is, the best way to protect our children is to stop sharing anything of them at all, but for many of us, this is the only way relatives and far away friends can see the lives of our families. Instead of an entire album, narrow it down to one or two photos that encapsulate the message you are wanting to share. 
  
I am angry that evil makes us filter good, but I am determined that in sharing our story, awareness will be raised to an epidemic destroying the innocent of the unknown.
 
What do you do to ensure your children’s online photographs stay in the hands of only the trusted? Please share your safety measures with our community of mamas in the comments below. 

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4 Responses to The Hidden Dangers of Posting Pictures of Your Children Online

  1. Audra December 29, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

    I’m confused. What is the “story you are here to tell?” They used pictures of your kids? Your kids were kid napped and sold into dlavery? What happened? And it’s as a result if you posting pictures on Facebook? Sorry but this article is vague and I’m searching for the take away.

  2. Andy Murphy January 1, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve passed it on to my readers as well. God bless you.

  3. Alana January 2, 2017 at 1:52 pm #

    Curious…,how did you discover this was happening?

  4. Veronica January 6, 2017 at 7:21 am #

    Thank for for bringing much needed awareness. I have two comments: 1) do not be so hard on yourself a having failed to protect. Wear all do what we know to do and can do better only when we become aware of what we need and can do better at, especially parenting.
    2) No one knows what they do not know. Awareness gives us the opportunity to do something about what we suddenly learn. By the very act bring awareness, you start a chain reaction of possibility that a difference can be made.

    Bless you for boldness, vulnerability and the courage to shine light on a dark subject.

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