19-month old victim of cyber-kidnapping: Prevent this from happening to your child
Though we have the best intentions when posting photos of our kids on social media, we may be unknowingly putting them at risk. Find out how to prevent your kids from being cyber-kidnapped
Wanting to share milestones in your child's life on social media is a universal need parents share.
Social media has been a way for us to connect with loved ones here and abroad; sharing key moments in the lives of our children is a great way to strengthen bonds despite our busy schedules.
But what we don't know is that sharing these cherished moments can put our little ones at risk.
Cyber-kidnapping or digital kidnapping happens when a stranger copies and saves photos of someone without their consent and then passing it off as their own. This is commonly done on babies or young children.
More than making parents feel their privacy is threatened, it also leaves them with a sense of powerlessness because they can't protect their kids.
We hear about cases of this happening all over the world. What's even more alarming is that it can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time.
Just recently, a mum on Facebook shared how her 19-month old baby girl fell victim to digital kidnapping.
She posted this to a mummy Facebook group in the hope of warning other parents.
The cyber-kidnapper was allegedly passing the daughter off as her own.
We were able to get in touch with the mum who recounted how they found about it.
"We received a message from someone on our business fb page. She asked us about if these women were working in our pet salon. Obviously we didn't recognise these names."
Then, the person who alerted them sent them screenshots proving that their photos were, in fact, being used by a different FB account.
She continues, "She was asking donations regarding her daughter who got very sick and is about to die (using our daughter's photos). Telling all these weird stories about her daughter in mummies groups on Facebook."
Learn more about her story on the next page
How do cyber-kidnappers operate?
These cyber-kidnappers apparently frequent various mum groups to spread fabricated stories. One Facebook user shared that they posted a new status almost every hour.
The versions of the stories differ in every group. For instance, the cyber-kidnappers would post in one group that the baby in the photo was already comatose while on another mommy group page, they would say that the baby's apparently died and they segue to asking for monetary aid.
Another group said the same cyber-kidnapper was claiming she was pregnant but was posting under a different name.
The alleged cyber-kidnapper posted photos of the 19-month-old girl in a walker playing with a puppy.
They apparently went as far as stealing photos of the toddler with her dad and added it to an album entitled 'Daddy's Girl'.
The alleged cyber-kidnapper even posted selfies when she wasn't posting photos of the 19-month-old.
The posts got even more disturbing when she said "her baby" was currently suffering from a critical illness.
The post claimed that the child had already passed away with a bleeding wound and was suffering from bruising and jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
Comments of condolonces started pouring in from netizens who actually believed her.
She even replied to saying about what happened before her baby passed away.
How to make sure your child isn't cyber-kidnapped
1. Make sure you check your privacy settings
The most popular social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have privacy settings that can be customised. Set albums to private. You can also select a specific audience for your posts.
Make sure that you only add friends and followers that you actually know.
2. Create secret digital havens
If you post photos mainly to share them with loved ones abroad, why not start a secret facebook group? This way, you can be super sure that photos can't be easily lifted.
Just make sure that your relatives and close friends won't post them publicly on their own pages.
3. Don't disclose private information
It's fun to check into places to let people know what you're up to but revealing this along with other personal information poses certain hazards.
Even simply uploading photos of your kids wearing their school uniforms can be dangerous as well as photos which show popular landmarks near your home.
4. Watermark your photos
Sure, it may be a hassle to have to do an extra step before you can post. But this really a useful tool in safeguarding your child's photos and personal information.
Make sure that this watermark is placed in a strategic location so as potential cyber kidnappers can't easily crop or edit the photos.
One can never be too careful especially when it comes to the safety of our kids. What may be stealing for now can quickly escalate into something more alarming if we allow it to go unchecked.
If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them in our Comment box below.