A mother was horrified to discover that photos of her baby she posted online had been stolen and used for a fake social media account.
The disturbing phenomenon, which is known as baby role playing and involves anonymous users who steal photos of babies to use for fantasy scenarios, was not something Lindsey Paris ever thought she’d be in the middle of.
Paris, a mother with a blog called Redhead Baby Mama, first discovered the account in 2012 after she noticed that her blog had a new follower and decided to see who the person was. When she clicked on the new follower’s account, she discovered photos of her then 18-month-old son.
“I flew into a mother lion rage, then I burst into tears,” she said. “She was pretending that he was her own and commenting on when was he going to start teething. Her friends were saying that they loved his hair. She was treating him as her own and that was the most petrifying thing. I didn’t know people did this.”
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Paris soon learned of the world of baby role playing and contacted the anonymous owner of the account to have it removed. The young woman turned out to be a 16-year-old girl, who apologized and took the page down.
“She said she’d always wanted a red-headed son and ‘I didn’t mean to hurt you,’” Paris said.
Other mothers have reported discovering their baby’s photos being used for online role playing, including South Florida mother Angelica Calad. Calad said she set up an Instagram feed where she’d share pictures of her daughter for friends and family. She soon discovered, however, that the photos were being used for sexually explicit baby role playing.
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“I was just completely just blown away and the morbid words I was reading, I was just, I'm sick to my stomach,” the baby’s father, Josh Biggs, said.
“It's beyond disturbing, I couldn't even read it,” Calad added.
After seeing a rise in the prominence of role playing accounts, Instagram users and people on other social media sites began creating accounts to help spread awareness of the disturbing phenomenon.
Instagram accounts like @babyrp_revealed have been created to search for role players and report them to the site’s administrators. However, experts and authorities advise that the most effective way to prevent this disturbing type of theft from occurring is for parents to be more cautious and aware of who they’re sharing photos with and how access to the photos is given.
Photo Credit: LiftBump