The internet grows ever creepier. Several months ago I watched an interview with Jamie Bartlett, author of 'The Dark Net', and found the whole thing fascinating and disturbing. Buying drugs on the Silk Road, groups that encourage anorexia and suicide, neo-Nazi freaks and so forth. So far disturbing is winning out and I'm not tempted to read the book but there is an element of fascination/staring at the car crash to the weird sick things people get involved in and how easily they get there.
Which brings me to last night's news report about digital kidnapping or baby role playing. People steal photos of other people's babies and repost them and pretend that they're theirs on social media. Supposedly it's mostly teenagers engaging in this but still, so creepy and sad and disturbing. From the news report:
"BabyRP is a growing online community that is mostly made up of teen and
tween-aged girls. There are even accounts that act as fake adoption
agencies with made up backstories for each photo. Users compete to adopt
the picture or role play in the comments section, often typing in "baby
talk." Some accounts are more disturbing than others, with users
obsessing over naked babies or breast-feeding."
I know, I shouldn't watch the news.
This got me thinking about my own blog. Because I promise you if people are stealing baby photos they're also stealing dog photos. If you post photos publicly in a blog you have to realize that they're going to get stolen. I'm not a professional photographer so as long as my photos aren't being used for nefarious reasons I'm not going to make myself crazy over where my photos end up. I'm careful about the sorts of photos I post and leave it at that. Nonetheless the thought of someone constructing a fake life around my dogs is creepy so I did a reverse search on some of my photos and sure enough I found one being used. At first I clicked on the site but it was taking a while to load and as it was loading I realized it looked sketchy so I quickly closed the window and decided not to go there. A more generic search brought up communities of people who go on the internet and pretend to be dogs themselves. After that discovery I decided I was happier living in ignorance about the whole thing. If some sad teenager wants to pretend that Strummer is theirs, well, all I have to say is she should be careful what she wishes for because he may end up on her doorstep and then she'll be uber sorry.
I didn't dig too deeply into this because again, creepy, I sorta don't want to know. It seems most of the dogs being poached for this are purebreds and while Strummer is purebred he doesn't look purebred so I'm guessing he's not a prime candidate. Seemed like mostly Huskies, German Shepherds and a surprising amount of Border Collie/herding dogs were being used. Also a lot of my photos are taken in the mountains, on trails, in the snow, places that won't work if the kid lives in Kansas or Florida. They probably go for more generic backgrounds.
Anyway if you keep a blog it's something to think about. The news article gives directions for doing a reverse search of your images so you can see if they turn up anywhere else. It also suggests getting an app for putting a watermark on your photos. Personally I can't be bothered with this but it's something to consider and if the situation turns super creepy I'll probably just stop posting photos of the dogs. If I had kids I wouldn't post their photos publicly at all but maybe I'm more paranoid than your average mommy blogger.
Think I'll go over to YouTube and see if I can find some kitten videos to wash the ick away.