A strange growing trend on Instagram includes users stealing photographs of children and passing them off as their own.
The baby role play accounts are usually private or anonymous and users have conversations pretending to be the the baby or the child’s parent. They write about feeding, clothing and disciplining the child. Sometimes these users make up entire fake families.
“Mes wove fwowers!” says one comment from user @adoptionrp. “Tey pwetty.”
A North Carolina mother named Jenny told Fast Company that someone named “Nikki” stole photos of her daughter and claimed it was her son “Wyatt.”
“Nikki said he was a preemie, she gave his weight, length, everything. All made up,” Jenny said.
When Jenny approached Instagram for help, she didn't get any help.
“I explained that this private user had stolen photos of my infant daughter,” she says. “Their response was that this was impersonation of a minor and I should be reporting that a minor is using Instagram. I wrote back and said this is not a minor using Instagram. She claims she’s 14 and she’s using a picture of my baby and other babies. They never responded.”
Using hashtags #openrp, #babyrp and #kidrp they invite other users to play along and “adopt” babies, stealing other infant photos on the web.
Baby role play comments often turn perverse. For example @adoptionrp has an obsession with being “nakey” and breastfeeding, according to Fast Company.
In the post below, someone commented “stab” and @adoptionrp responded “cries in pain.”
In another infant photo a user comments, “Can I take you out *smiles and starts to untangle ropes*”
When user @baby_rp_teamjacob posted a picture of a male baby, one user commented, “Can I have a private with a dirty baby?”
“Initially I thought the roleplays were pretty G-rated. I was so wrong,” Randi, an L.A.-based photographer told the Daily Dot. “Some seem pretty harmless and do not bother me too much, besides the fact that they are stealing photos, but the accounts where people are playing out sexual or abuse storylines are just awful. These people clearly are not right in their mind. Who knows how many of these weirdos have molested children in real life; obviously they think about it and it is a ‘turn on’ for them.”
“I don't understand how it is OK for people to run accounts like this. It’s basically child pornography,” she said. “I have reported many of these images and accounts and have not been contacted by anyone from Instagram, and all of the accounts I've reported remain active.”
Instagram did not respond to Fast Company for comment, but told the Daily Dot that they have a team that reviews content violations. Every photo uploaded to the site is allegedly reviewed with PhotoDNA, a software that allows law enforcement to track child molesters.
Some disgusted users are taking matters into their own hands. Under the hashtag #downwithbabyrp accounts are revealing some of the biggest offenders and a Change.org petition to ban these types of accounts garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
Image source: Flickr Creative Commons / Michael Glasgow, Instagram / Fast Company