(NewsNation) — Many parents post pictures of their kids online to share with family and friends. But one mom is taking to social media to warn people to be careful of this after becoming a victim of “digital kidnapping.”
Experts say digital kidnapping is the act of stealing a minor’s photo and posting it on a social media platform, acting as if it’s their own.
Content creator Meredith Steele, who has two children, said this happened to her. The Independent reports she would blog about her and the children’s daily life on Instagram, garnering thousands of followers.
However, Steele later found out an imposter account was taking pictures of her kids off her Instagram and sharing them as if they were their own.
“It was super unsettling and scary,” Steele says.
So, Steele said she “deleted everything,” changed her name on Facebook and locked everything down.
“It’s also a scary realization,” she said.
As for protection, there are very few laws that exist at the federal level that address digital kidnapping. When it comes to online safety regarding young children and social media photos, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act only gives parents control over what information websites can collect on their children’s profiles and their search history.
“It would have been nice if there were better accountability measures to keep people safe online than are currently accessible,” Steele said.
Here’s what you can do to protect your own kids, per the Diamond Valley Federal Credit Union:
- Use strong, unique passwords
- Change your passwords every six months
- Avoid using public WiFi
- Keep security/software for your device updated
- Avoid sharing sensitive information with an unverified contact
- Never download an attachment/click link from an email with an unknown sender