Monday, March 13, 2017

What predators look for when you post photos of your children.

Posting seemingly innocent photos of your child or teen has a sinister outcome that you may never have considered.

WARNING: 
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS ADULT CONCEPTS AND EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS


Your child or teen could be a poster child for a pedophile ring - and you may never know.
Australia made world news in 2016 with a website trading explicit photos of local school girls.   The site even had pages dedicated to local Brisbane and Gold Coast high schools and fan pages - offering money to men who could find more explicit photos of their favourites.

Attempts to close down the site have been thwarted in a brazen disregard of the law.  And these girls, whose images have been used without consent, could be to this day, oblivious.

Police CANNOT ALWAYS LOCATE YOU if photos of your children have been found to be used in connection with pedophile rings.  Due to the ability to mask IP addresses and identities with overseas servers and false identities it is not always possible to link an identity to these photos.  There are even sites dedicated to teaching online predators how to cover their tracks.

A photo of your child could be part of a pedophilia ring that has been uncovered by Police, and you wont even know about it.

The Task Force I worked for busts pedophile rings - and makes arrests of pedophiles in our neighbourhood.  This article is an insight into what they do, and how close to your home they come to arrest offenders.



A pedophile or predator will not play fair, nor think like the average person.  They therefore look at images and their erotic 'potential' differently to how the average population does.

Here are some things that pedophiles may find attractive when looking at photos on social media:

  • The obvious stuff - like children in bathers, underwear, having a bath, or in a state of undress.   Even well placed emoticons covering your child's genitals can be photoshopped off and genitals photoshopped back on to increase the 'value' of the photo. You can take me to South Bank beach at Brisbane on any given day and I will be able to point out lone males taking photos of children.... your children.   And yes - Police do patrol this and regularly confiscate cameras and phones.  I have seen it happen meters away from parents and they are completely and utterly oblivious.  The Police do not have to approach the parents, because it is not an element of the offence to have a complainant.  Importantly, there is rarely time in these situations to locate and talk to the parents about what has just happened - Police are too busy dealing with the offender.
  • The less obvious stuff that predators find irresistible: like photos that they can alter to make your child or teen look they are part of a sexual act.   These photos can be altered to have a male person in the photo in a state of arousal.  Or they can simply overlay a lewd comment so that the photo becomes a pedophile photo 'meme'.
  • Children of social media celebrities.  The more photos posted, and the more coverage the images gain, the more likely they are to come to the attention to pedophile groups and be subjected to their monstrous conversations and attentions.  Similar to a teenage crush of a pop star, these photos become a platform for imaginings, fantasies and lewd behaviours.  The internet has now allowed predators to openly discuss their fetishes, and because they have the support of their monstrous tribe, they now have a place to 'normalise' and 'strategise' dysfunctional thoughts and fantasies.

Things to consider when posting photos of your children:

  • Is there enough room to 'superimpose' another figure into the image?*
  • Are they in a state of undress (even with emoticons placed modestly - these can be removed and body parts can be photo shopped in).
  • Do you have a public social media page?  Pedophiles can develop 'child crushes' and the child does not have to be posed or in a state of undress for the photo to become a commodity.

*  I used to pray that when I saw a photo of a baby in a nappy and a sexually aroused man in the image that the image was 'superimposed'.  I didn't always receive this comfort from the government classifier or the photographic specialists.   This is is the horrific reality of child sex crimes and trafficking in the 21st century.  There is one photo in particular that I remember which causes me pain daily - a 6 month old in just a nappy with the most beautiful angelic smile laying on a bed - and a naked man entering the babies bedroom.   This child looked like my babies - your babies.  And the horror that I could not reach through that screen and save that child scratches at my brain.

Things to be considered with your teens social media images:

  1. Duck faces and posed photos are used as baseline trading images on predator sites.
  2. Swimwear and underwear shots become more valuable.
  3. If their account is public then the predator 'ring' can approach friends (or enemies) of the teen and pay money for more explicit photos.

It has taken over a decade for me to write this post because I know that I will have re-visted images and situations from my career that haunt me.  There was a time when I would physical hit my head and moan to stop the memories - but I hope that I have now developed better coping strategies.   I now have a practice of offering it 'up', or surrender.  I take the time to do a short meditation where I hand the image and the horror over.  This then allows me to focus on the present.   If it re-surfaces I repeat... repeat, repeat repeat - just like my rules of self defence.  Because to submit is not an option for me - or my children.

If you have been affected by this article please make an appointment with your GP.

Or ring lifeline.  Or the sexual assault helpline.

Here are some things you may need to know when reporting sexual abuse.


Empower yourself and your family with an online interactive self defence e-book.
Because self defence isn't something that you had 'wished' you had learned.

56 comments:

  1. Is this still an issue if your social media settings are set to private or 'friends only'?

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    1. I suppose if you tag a friend, then they are visible to their friends. And if your account gets hacked everything can be made public, shared & spread...

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    2. yes it is as friends of friends can often see things, share it unknowingly, and end up in the wrong hands.

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    3. Nothing is secure on the Internet and that is official

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    4. Not to mention, one doesn't always know who the pedophiles are. It could be your neighbor or best friend's husband

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    5. Yes. Any of your friends could be part of these "rings" unfortunately nothing is really "safe"

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    6. Any photograph you post on social media, can end up anywhere. It's less likely if you have tightly managed privacy settings, but it's still very easy to copy, download, or screenshot ANY image on social media.

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    7. Nothing is ever "private" on the internet, regardless of your settings.

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    8. Yes, as you cannot be 100% certain that you don't have a predator on your list of friends.

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    9. Well when they are caught they can face what's coming to them in prison!!!

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    10. Any photo can be screenshot and re-posted publicly. No uploaded photo is safe.

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    11. One of my aqquaintances currently have a stepchild in prison with connections to child porn. Pedophiles can seem like regular people to anyone but their victims. There is also no way of knowing if an imagine has been saved somehow and reposted or shared without your knowledge.

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    12. There is always a risk once you make a picture on your phone, it's already online and can be hacked. You can only make it harder for pedos to get access to these pictures by either not posting any pictures of your child at all or share it via email, secret group for just your family and friends etc. Anything that goes on your timeline on Facebook can be shared by people you might not even know thus making it very easy to get into the wrong hands.

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    13. Pedos can be anyone we know this with certainty and a lot of the time you have already had them over for dinner or hung out at their house. My family and I knew one personally we trusted him with our kids he was the children's pastor at our church. Luckily my kids knew to tell us everything and nothing had happened. I think the good Lord everyday for that but he was FB friends with everyone we knew and us so this horror could be happening to one of my kids photos. I pray and hope not I do know he is now doing 40 years in the state penitentiary but that doesn't mean he didn't do all the damage he could before he got caught. Please think and just be very careful!

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  2. I was wondering the same thing. I have my account totally private and only people I actually know are on it.

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    1. Well, it's not totally private. There's still half a dozen photos anyone can see.

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  3. Even with private setting one can view yout profile. Its a misconception that people cannot. Its visible. Google it amd you will know how!!!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Not if your settings are high enough and not set to friends of friends and just friends and you can also see who sees things when friends are tagged in it.

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  4. My facebook account is private too but one of my friends accidentally shared one of my posts of a photo when i know they really meant to hit like. That then meant all of his facebook friends (most of whom I do not know), then saw my posted photo on his feed.

    Also in instagram you can make your account private but the second you add a hashtag it becomes a public photo. Most people don't know this.

    If it is online. Consider it not private. Even if you have it set to private.

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    1. Only mutual friends can see a photo that is for "friends" if someone shares it.

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    2. How do hashtags work for private photos?

      If your account is set to private and you add a hashtag to your post, the post won't appear publicly on the corresponding hashtag page. Only your approved followers will be able to see your posts on hashtag pages or in Instagram Direct messages.

      Source: instagram

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    3. If someone shares your photo and it's set to private then no one will see it. Unless you have mutual friends.

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  5. I think about this all the time as a blogger but seeing it written down like this makes me think so much more. It's a scary world but thank you for sharing, it's really helpful and shows I really didn't have much idea about what goes on.

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  6. Nothing on the Internet is private. Nothing.
    It's disgusting that there are men with such disfunction.

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    1. Disgusting that women have a similar disfunction. It just isn't seen as nearly as vile because women are not usually seen as aggressive monsters. Though there aren't as many women pedophiles as men, generally their acts are dismissed and their victims are seen as "lucky." I find that almost nauseating...when a child is a victim of a woman, and their loss of innocence is trivialized and downplayed.

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    2. Yes as there are men and women pedophiles it's disgusting regardless. Its not their gender that makes it that way, its the act itself..

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  7. And God has a HellFire for these sick creeps to get roasted thru and thru! You NEVER get away with ANYthing you do wrong. Trust and believe that.

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  8. Private hashtags on Instagram can only be seen by approved followers but the main thing to remember here is, you may think you know your friends and followers but not all can be trusted and there is a lot of people out there that will send photos for money even as revenge. It's wrong and horrific but there isn't a whole lot to stop it except be mindful of the photos you post.

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  9. Great blog piece Erin. And how very brave of you to write this despite the emotional pain of reliving this part of your life, exposed to this. Please don't hesitate to get in touch regarding further development of those coping strategies. More can be done. Regards Lisa.

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  10. Please, please turn off the GPS function on your phone. It puts the GPS coordinate in the unseen properties function of the picture! Take a picture of your child at school, they can find the school. Take a picture of your child at their favorite fast food place or playground, they can find it. Take a picture of your child in their bedroom and they have your address!! Turn GPS off and protect your children!!

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  11. To single,lonely mums as well. Never accept a friend request from strange men...I have received requests from random men, there is a trend where they friend single mums to get to their children...one of the tell tail signs of a sexual predator is their photo's and friend lists, you will see either very little information is given about them or they have a lot of photo's of female friends some are dressed very provocatively, they don't have many male friends...they may be after you or your children, they have pictures of themselves with fancy cars and houses, this is a lure.

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    1. I am a married woman and have even had this done to me

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  12. I've been saying this for years about posting your kids pic as a profile pic.
    They can study your FB and find out your habits, especially when you leave the house, and when your kid is home alone. I don't have or want kids but at the same time I don't want to see bad things happen to them.

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  13. Well written, thank you for sharing this information.

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  14. Thanks for the article. I have two boys 11 and 10 and while they have access to the internet at home, I have so far managed to keep them, relatively, isolated from social media, and manage their internet access with a relatively stringent program. I was also moved by how you experienced some reactions to the "flashbacks" of your past experiences. I would recommend a course of TRE for that. TRE, Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercise, is a physically based methodology for releasing trauma stored in the tissues of your body. Good luck, and thank you.

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  15. So you have accessed child porn yourself why should you not be charged

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    1. She stated she worked on a task force that busts pedophile rings...... Duh...

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  16. She worked for a task force which bust paedophile rings. It was part of her job to investigate and then arrest the perpetrators.

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  17. im deleting my childrens pics right now

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    1. I wish that were enough to make them gone. If those pictures have been online for more than 30 days, they have already been backed up to dozens of servers. Hackers often don't bother backing websites for their creepy content, they instead go straight to the source and hack the servers. There is no way to delete an image from the internet once it has been posted.

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  18. Even if your profile is private, friends can share your pictures "externally" (effectively downloading and reuploading them). You will not be notified when this happens as the new upload is completely separate from your original post.

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  19. The other frightening thing to remember is that pedophiles do not wear identification. You may have the highest privacy standards on your facebook page but unbeknown to you, you may actually be 'friends' with a pedophile. It's enough to make you sick really....

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    1. We recently found out that a member of my husbands family (his deceased first wifes family ) remarried a single mom and then molested her children. Worst part he was a retired police officer and a father of 2 grown children of his own.(with grandchildren) Even worse the whole family knew for 40 years he was a risk because he had molested his sister (my husbands 1st wife) in her youth. But his father (also a cop) covered it up when they were kids and brushed it all under the rug.

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  20. How do I know or who do I let know that my ex husband would know how to do this sort of thing and yes we did take him thou the court system for sexually abusing my Daughter he never done time . I worry everyday that he is still out there and I just know he is still doing it .I hope someone is watching him ?

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  21. You shouldn't post any photos of your kids in a public forum, or wearing skimpy clothing - dot, but I think the fear of posting them to friends only is a bit extreme, yes, one of your "friends", or their friends or family members who has access to their computer, could be in one of these rings, but as the article points out, even if you never post any photos you could end up with photos of your child taken at a beach, or at the park, without your knowledge or permission. There are photos of children everywhere, on children products, if you're careful and sensible the chance the risk to your child is small. If you want to keep your children safe then don't let your children out of your sight.

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  22. If you have done this as a cop, why has John George Aster managed to slip through. He is a convicted pedophile and child pornographer who has now even started a photography business taking pictures at childrens parties and private sittings. This pervert needs to be taken out.

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  23. 'Though there aren't as many women pedophiles as men, generally their acts are dismissed and their victims are seen as "lucky." I find that almost nauseating...when a child is a victim of a woman, and their loss of innocence is trivialized and downplayed.'
    Thanks for highlighting this. For years I wondered if I had been abused but could find no perpetrator among the men I had come into contact with as a child. My life was a mess and I thought I was crazy.
    I was in therapy for a very long time before memories resurfaced of my abuse aged 2-5 by a woman living in our home. She groomed me for months and also confused and terrified me by telling me she was my real mother and my parents must never know or they would get rid of me.
    The trigger for my remembering was seeing the film 'Sybil' on TV. That was when I had my first panic attack. I was 37 years old.
    Remembering was painful and I still deal with the consequences today but at least I knew I wasn't crazy, just surviving in the only way I knew how.
    My depression has returned and is particularly intense at the moment as my grandchildren are aged between 2-5. So now, at 70, I am back in therapy again.
    My message to any adult survivor reading this is 1. Never give up on yourself. 2. You did nothing wrong. 3. Be certain that the only way out is through. 4. Get yourself good quality help and support and stick with it. 5. You deserve a calm and peaceful life.

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  24. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, it really helps parents and guardians of kids think about their actions on here. We have a 5 month old daughter and didn't want to share publicly on social media but we wanted to be able to keep close family and friends in touch with her development so we started a closed group on FB to be able to do that and be safe.
    At least that's what we thought until I read your post, now I am considering shutting down the group but I still want to be able to keep everybody posted. I would love to get some advice if there is any way to achieve this safely but your comment about 'nothing online is safe' is ringing in my ears.
    I look forward to your reply :-)

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    1. I too keep a close group on FB, in order to minimize exposure. I thought I could trust everyone in the group, until I realized my very own sister in law had been copying my photos and posting them on her open to the public FB page. Mind you she has over 1k "friends." She was also developing these photos and making things like mouse pads and Christmas ornaments for herself and my mother in law. Needless to say, this infuriated me! Especially since we had a conversation a year prior about her friending and posting pictures of her high school students. To this day, she sees nothing wrong nor does the rest of my husband's family. Crazy, nieve, and disrespectful people out there.

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  25. Thanks for your great post, it's important information that has to get out there. I had a situation last week that I didn't think as much of until I read your post. I was in my back yard doing some self defense training with my nephews, it was a Saturday and was quite late.
    We were practicing late in the evening and lost track of the time, we were making a bit of noise for the time of night but not deliberately. I started to see something flashing out of the corner of my eye from over the fence at my neighbors house.
    I dismissed it at the time thinking it was some sort of security device but my partner realised it was the flashing of a camera when she came out to ask us to keep the noise down.
    I immediately went over to the fence and saw what I was sure was a male figure in the window in a dark room. I immediately went over and knocked on their door. His wife answered from inside but didn't open the door. A few things were said and I left.
    When I got back home my partner suggested I ring the police, I did so but long story short they didn't attend as it was a typical busy Saturday night.
    When I rang back they suggested I go to the station and report it. I haven't done so as yet but after reading this post I think that I should do so as who knows what this guy might be using the photos for.
    I would really appreciate your advise on how to get the police to properly investigate this as this guy could possibly be a predator and I can't let this go until I know either way for sure for so many obvious reasons.
    Looking forward to your reply.

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  26. I posted a picture on a friends page of my 2 grandbabies. They were opening gifts she sent. I saw someone "shared" the picture. I went o his wall. There the pictures were. I messaged him and told him to remove these pictures. He refused! I had to block him in order to have them removed/ I never met this man.

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  27. Sometimes makes me suspect Whatsapp forwards that is a pic of a child with contact numbers saying a anyone who finds the child can contact the number. Are there any known instances of criminal background for these?

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  28. This is really frightening. I have always been worried about this, and have limited posting photos of my son on fb but now I am worried that is not enough. Someone earlier said not to post anything to social media and I am wondering if I should do that. I cannot do anything about the photos already up, but maybe I can avoid problems in the future by not posting anything. My question is more so about other people. My son's grandmother (not my mother, she knows I don't like photos posted), she always has gps activated on her phone and she ALWAYS whips out her phone and takes many many photos of my son and then proceeds to post most of them to fb. I have talked to her about it before but she states her father lives in FL and he needs to see the photos. Then I feel bad and let her continue. Do I need to enforce very, very strict guidelines that NO ONE is allowed to take photos of my son, except me, or that NO ONE is allowed to post any photos of my son, except me?? But then I am worried she will just email the photos, can't those be stolen as well? And how fair is that rule to family who just loves your child? I have to tread lightly, because if I piss her off enough I am sure I will be "unfriended on fb" and then I won't be able to see what she is posting! Any advice?? Also, my son's father might listen to my boundaries about this, but that is another problem...he can just take photos, then share them with his mom and then the problem is never truly fixed.

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  29. Is there a way to see if any of your own photos of your family have been used? I wouldn't want any of my children on any of those horrid sites!

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