A dreadful new trend is sweeping Instagram. Some users are stalking the popular social media site and poaching pictures of babies and toddlers.
Worrying thought this is, it’s what happens next that’s even more terrifying. The photos are used as the basis for violent and sexual scenarios where strangers indulged in perverted and sadistic fantasies and role-play.
The photos, often renamed, sometimes advertise the babies as up for adoption or for sale and invite people to start “baby role-playing” and using the hashtag #babyrp.
New accounts are being added to Instagram daily, with fake profiles for the baby, sometimes written in baby talk with lisps added. Usually the profile begins a story for the baby or describes a set of circumstances, inviting other users to continue.
One story on Instagram begins “Jesse’s parents abandoned her in the local park… she was freezing due to the winter weather. But she was wrapped in a small blanket. You were walking in the park and…”
One user, “I’m sexual”, has continued the story: “When I see Jesse I look around to see if her parents are around. There is no sign. I pick her up and snuggle her.”
Some of the descriptions on Instagram are extremely violent or sexual. Some users boast of their “abusive” role plays and some are too perverted to be described here.
One worried mum, Elizabeth Harper, found her daughter Audrey’s photo a baby role-playing accounts. However, her name had been changed to “Ally” and she was advertised as up for adoption. Elizabeth fumed: “Uh, I’m sorry… but this is definitely NOT ‘Ally’ and she is definitely NOT for freaking sale!. This is MY child, and I did NOT and would NEVER give permission for this post!”
Mrs Harper has said that she complained to Instagram, but the account is still active and her daughter’s photo still on it. An Instagram spokesperson responded that when a parent of guardian reports this sort of post, they will remove the pictures: “This type of content violates our terms. Once a parent or guardian reports it to us, we work quickly to remove it.”