Every day, proud parents around the world take to social media to share photos of their most beautiful moments, including many involving their children. But what would you do if you found out your intimate family photos were being posted by someone you didn’t know?
That’s exactly the situation 35-year-old mother-of-two Meredith Steele found herself in after sharing a pleasant night out with her followers turned into a nightmare.
Celebrating her child’s preschool graduation, blogger Steele posted a photo of her happy family on her social media, tagging the location they were currently at. But minutes later, their waitress noted that the same photo had been posted by a different user. A little detective work changed Steele’s entire outlook.
“It was absolutely horrifying,” she said, explaining that she had discovered this imposter had not only stolen the restaurant photo but over 30 additional pictures. They had even gone so far as to change the names of her children, prompting her to take immediate action.
“The kids had new names and new identities … I freaked out and removed everything.”
“I felt like such a bad parent,” she said. “It was like they were playing with Barbie dolls, but the dolls were my kids.”
Her following has grown since that time, but Steele has clamped down on sharing her kids’ identities on social media. Her 157,000 Instagram followers and over 922,000 TikTok followers still receive updates on the family, but she makes sure the young children’s faces are blurred, covered or facing away from the camera. She has also stopped allowing her children to be photographed while at school and away at summer camps, and will not post the family’s location until they have left the area.
Additionally, she has begun speaking out about “mommy blogger culture” and how normalizing the over-sharing of intimate family details, even the seemingly innocuous, can put your family in danger.
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“Mommy blog culture normalizes oversharing intimate personal details of your kids — and they aren’t old enough to agree or disagree with it,” she said, making it easy for creeps to “digitally kidnap” your family online. “This has changed my mind about sharing my stuff online.”
She advised other parents, even those without a large social media following, to “protect your kids’ identities online.”
Steele also revealed that she had reported the fake account, but it reportedly hasn’t been removed, proving that you can’t rely on anyone but yourself to make sure your social media is safe.
Republished with permission from American Wire News Service
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