Baby bump predators: Be careful what you share online, mums-to-be!
Did you know that online predators are also targeting unsuspecting mums-to-be who simply want to share the joy of pregnancy with the world?
When you're expecting the birth of your little one, each milestone is truly special. You document your pregnancy journey to share your joy with the world, but without your knowing it, you could be the target of online predators. Did you know that there are unsafe baby bump shots that you should refrain from posting?
Two mums found out about the dangers of online predators the hard way. Their photos were stolen and circulated by preggophiliacs on groups and sites that fetishised mums-to-be.
Preggophilia, or pregnancy fetishism, is when one is attracted to pregnant women's bodies in a sexual way. There are different sites for this, like Preggophilia.com, which is an online space for “admirers of pregnant women.” The site's disturbing content ranges from "pictures of pregnant teens" to "pregnant celebrities."
Mum blogger, Meg Ireland, found out from friends that her photos were stolen and used on a porn site, without her knowledge when they popped up in a mum's group.
A 29-year-old mum in Malaysia also fell prey to unwittingly sharing unsafe baby bump shots when a photo of her pregnant with her eldest son was used without her consent.
There are nearly 100 groups that share the fetish on Facebook alone. And the predators haven't stopped there. They have also created Whatsapp and Telegram groups to share photos.
"A week later I was told by my friend that my photos were shared in other groups and when I read the comments, I felt so disgusted," she told New Straits Times. "Two days later, the page was blocked by Facebook, but until today I am traumatised and do not want to upload any more pictures on Facebook."
Unsafe baby bump shots: How to keep yourself safe online
Preggophilia or maiesiophilia is a mental illness, which manifests in abnormal fetishes, similar to paedophilia.
"We understand that we are facing maiesiophilia sufferers who have a strange sexual addiction. They are driven by lust and do not care about your privacy," Malaysian Psychiatric Association president Dr Ahmad Rostam tells NST. He urges mums to come forward if they fall victim to these online crimes, in order to raise awareness about it.
So be wary of social media users who ask people to share photos, mums! Remember these safety tips:
1. Be careful when making online mummy friends
It's so easy to lift or screenshot photos these days. You can never be too careful! Don't be fooled by mummy accounts, unless you really know them personally.
Remember, these predators often pose as mums themselves to be able to gain access to groups where mums share photos of their naked pregnant bellies.
"People are posing as parents or expectant mums of twins or more and joining Facebook groups and sharing a photo of their pregnant belly and asking others to share theirs," Ali Mountfield from the Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA) tells ABC News.
2. Only share photos to trusted social circles
Make sure your friend list has been vetted and proven trustworthy before sharing intimate moments of you life, including baby bump baring photos. It may seem tedious to comb through your social media accounts, but it's best to be extra safe.
3. Privatise your social media accounts
Sadly, dangers lurk even in the most harmless platforms, like Instagram. It's best to make your account private, especially if you fear that your baby bump photos can easily be lifted. We wish we could say Twitter is a safe corner of the Internet, but apparently it's not.
4. Track down predators yourself
Why not play detective if you suspect your photos have been snatched? To do this, do a reverse image search on Google.
You can use the image's URL and search for it online. Or you can upload your images to Google Image search to find out where else it has been uploaded. If you use the Chrome or Firefox browser, you can simply right click on the image and click "search google for image."
Report everything you find to administrators of social networks.
5. Watermark your photos
It might seem like a hassle to watermark your photos, but it will surely pay off, especially when it comes to potentially unsafe baby bump shots. Watermarking will discourage predators from lifting or editing the image.
You can even go one step further and place invisible watermarks on your photos. Find out how to watermark your photos invisibly here.
6. Change your password frequently
When predators can't find photos shared freely, some might resort to hacking into your account to access private content. Make sure to change your password every month to be extra safe. This protects other information and correspondences, too!
7. Filter what groups you have joined (or haven't!)
Have you ever been notified by a group that you don't recall joining? Some groups allow you to add people with whom you have mutual friends.
Because mums get so busy, it's easy to overlook what groups they joined or what they've been added to without their consent. So make a habit of checking and filtering your online groups to be super safe!
Remember: Your profile photo is always public and can be accessed through other search engines.
We hope you find this information useful to keep your growing family safe from wolves in sheep's clothing, lurking in places where we think we're safe online.