A 35-year-old blogger has stopped posting pictures of her children online after she discovered that a fake account contained pictures of her children.
Meredith Steele is a 35-year-old mother of two from Portland, Maine.
In June 2021, Steele posted a family photo of herself and her family on their way to her child’s preschool graduation dinner.
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A few minutes after Steele posted a picture that included the location of the restaurant, the waitress saw the same photo of the Steele family twice.
While investigating the issue, content creator Steele discovered that the fake account contained more than 30 photos of his family.
“It was absolutely terrifying,” he said.
“The kids had new names and new identities … I was scared and I took everything down.”
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The fake account featured images of her family out and about, running errands and other activities such as eating lunch and going to school.
“It changed the way I think about sharing stuff online.”
According to SWNS, Steele reported the account to Instagram, but the site said it did not take it down.
That’s when he blocked the fake account from accessing his profile.
“I felt like a really bad parent,” she said.
“It was like they were playing with Barbie dolls, but the dolls were my children.”
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Steele has an active social media presence.
She has more than 157,000 followers on Instagram and more than 922,000 followers on her TikTok account – but she has now completely changed the way she shares pictures of her children.
According to SWNS, Steele no longer shares photos of her children’s faces — only the backs of their heads — and doesn’t mark locations until she leaves the area.
She also no longer allows her children to be photographed at school or summer camp.
“Mommy blog culture normalizes over-sharing of your kids’ personal information.”
Steele said she was a victim of “digital kidnapping” and warns others to be wary of such things online.
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“Mommy blog culture normalizes oversharing with your kids — and they’re never too old to agree or disagree,” she said.
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“It changed the way I think about sharing stuff online,” he said.
In a word of advice to other parents, she added firmly: “Protect your children’s privacy online.”
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