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When it comes to social media, ignorance is bliss. I like assuming that everyone who reads the blog or follows me on Instagram is someone like me. A mom or a soon-to-be-mom or just someone who really likes kids. Like in an innocent, kids are cute way. Not in a creepy “I like kids” way. But unfortunately there are a lot of the creepy kinds of people in the world. Like a lot. And somehow these creepy types of people find a way to suck the fun out of social media.
Last week a friend of mine posted this blog post from another blogger. It’s a post about protecting her family on Instagram. I knew when I saw it that I didn’t want to read it. I wish I could un-know the things this post opened my eyes to. It freaked me out.
Part of her post talked about some of the issues she’s had with being a blogger and having some rather creepy people following her blog and knowing a lot about her life. I get that because I’ve experienced some of it myself (remember?). Reading about her experiences made me SO thankful that my blog is relatively SMALL. It’s easy to get caught up in the Joneses when it comes to blogging. So many people have posts go viral. Thousands of followers on Facebook. Hundreds of likes within seconds of posting pics to IG.
Realizing that the bigger you get – the more creeps you attract makes me very, very thankful that I’m not a bigger blogger. It helped remind me that I never need to get any bigger than I am now. I’m totally thankful for the awesome readers I have and the support I get from y’all! I’m making a little bit of money each month from the blog and enjoy getting a few freebies now and then as perks and am very content with where it’s at. Growing in readership would mean I’d have to change my purpose of blogging and change how I blog and I really don’t want to do that. I want it to remain a journal type blog of my children’s lives and would hate for some creeps to ruin that for me.
The big point of her post, though, was about Instagram. I had NO CLUE about the crazy stuff that I guess can happen on IG. As soon as I read about Baby Role Playing I freaked out. A lot of the things it said that these baby roll players are drawn to are the type of IG pics I post.
Cute baby: check
High quality images: check
Baby looking directly at camera: check
Baby sitting alone: check
Plus hello…Tess is SO CUTE. It made me feel sick and scared as soon as I read about it and I’m so worried that her pics may be lurking out there somewhere being used for this purpose. I immediately changed my privacy settings on Instagram to private. I also went through and looked at every single person who follows my IG account. It took me 2 solid hours. I blocked anyone that was suspicious or gave me any kind of icky feeling (and there were several…) and then I also requested to follow anyone who follows me and has a private account.
I have NO intentions of stopping posting photos to Instagram. I do, however, plan to be safer and smarter with who I allow to see the images I post. I am remaining private and anyone who requests to follow me I will screen prior to accepting. If they have a private account I will ask to follow them so I can see their posts prior to allowing them to see mine. It’s a hassle but I’d rather do that than have to sacrifice the photos I enjoy posting. I won’t let the creeps of the internet steal my joy 🙂
I not only post a lot on the blog and on Instagram but I also post videos to You Tube regularly. Basically ALL of my kids home videos are on You Tube. I’ve always had my account set to public because that’s how it was by default when I created the account and I never thought about changing it. Again. Ignorance = Bliss.
This Instagram concern lead me to look into my You Tube account. Want to talk about being freaked out? O.M.G I was totally freaked out. (I’ve been freaking out a lot this past week!) I blocked all the creeps who were subscribing to my channel (and about puked when I saw my top watched videos. ICK.) and changed all my videos to “unlisted.” This means that my videos can still be viewed via direct link (like when I post them on the blog) but not by the public, not by being searched (you don’t even want to know the words that were being searched to get to my videos…), and not just by viewing my channel.
I know this is probably an obvious move to make, but it was sad for me to make it. Whenever I post videos up on You Tube they get viewed pretty quickly and I’ve liked to think those views are my mom watching the kids and feeling connected to them. I have no proof that it’s been her watching. And now after finding out about all the straight up creeeeeeeps on You Tube there is a good chance it wasn’t her watching. But if it was, I feel really sad that I had to change them to unlisted. I hate the thought that she can’t easily watch them anymore.
For now I have no plans on changing the blog. I already have a Facebook Page set up for the blog (best place to stay connected with me!) and do not accept ANY friend requests on my personal page. I also will not respond to any messages sent to my personal Facebook account. If you would like to contact me the best way to reach me is The Journey of Parenthood Facebook Page or email (journeyofphood @ gmail . com).
I hate that the world is so dark and scary and that I had to make these changes to these accounts. I’ve considered getting more active on Twitter? It seems like it’d be safer to me since you don’t have to post pictures? I’m sure I’d only find out that there is a creepy side to that too though, huh?
As far as an update about my “stalker” situation from a couple years ago…I’ve heard now that they have coined the term “cyber kidnapping” and it’s become a much bigger issue. People take images from blogs or social media of children and claim they are their kids. Again, can we say creepy. What is so sad to me is that most of the people doing this stuff are TEENS. My “stalker?” is a teenager.
Why would a teenager want to read my blog? Why would any teen be interested in baby scheduling or nursing or my life with my kids? As a teen I found the adult world BORING. But yet tons of teens are stealing images, creating fake accounts, and just being creepy. The teenager I have been dealing with is STILL following me. Still lurking. I really don’t want to have to take things to the next level and have to get authorities involved. Because who wants to get a teenager in trouble? I continue to block this person but if anyone ever sees ANYTHING suspicious on ANY social media site involving me or my children PLEASE contact me IMMEDIATELY. (Also please provide any links and/or screen shots of what you find! The more info the better!)
All of these steps I’ve taken to protect my family are things I wanted to share with all of you. So you would also have the opportunity to protect yours and so you can help me continue to keep mine safe.
If you’d like to follow the REAL Emily you can do so here:
Instagram (keep in mind I will have to be able to view your account prior to accepting you)
Any other tips for protecting my social media accounts?