Monday, October 20, 2008

Sick to My Stomach

This isn't a pleasant post.  It's actually quite disturbing.

And I debated if I should post it as it may worry people. But, I do know that I would want to know.

I can be a bit wordy so hang in there with me . . .

When my son started kindergarten I had a sudden revelation that I had been too fast and loose with his privacy.  So I went on a deleting binge.  I deleted all of my digi-scrap layouts that mentioned names.  I combed through my blog to delete all references to the kids names.  I've also kept a web site for my family since I was pregnant with my son.  I deleted it off the internet.  I switched to a blog format and have kept all names off of it.  We will eventually be making our family site private, by invitation only.

This need for privacy wasn't driven by fear of internet predators but rather by a desire to respect my son's privacy.  He's in elementary school now.  As he gets older it's not fair that every child in his class could have instant access to his baby pictures!  But, in the back of my head, I also realized that after so many years online, that there was just too much information out there and I needed to streamline things.


I felt good.

Ok, I track statistics on this blog.  For no other reason than curiosity.  I like to see what pages get hit.  I like to see where my visitors come from.  I like to see which sites or blogs are referring people to me.  If only so I can go over and visit them.  This weekend there was a new referrer.  And if I don't recognize it, and since I had a few minutes, I clicked to see who it is.

It was from Japan.  And it was a list of photos.  As I wasn't fully paying attention, I just thought cool . . . another digi-freebie collaborator site has picked up my blog.  Heck, I have ones from France and Russia and South America so it didn't really hit me at first.  They all post previews of my digi-scrap freebies and link to my blog.  I love these people.  They drive a lot of traffic to my site and keep my freebies downloading. 

But this one was different.  I saw a digi-scrap layout here and there but mostly just pictures of girls and even a cute little blue dress.  Then I noticed a word in the top navigation that I simply don't associate with scrapbook.  It was a word you only hear in a medical setting or in porn.

Alarmed, I scrolled some more.  And mixed in with the innocuous pictures of little girls was porn.

Ugly stuff.

I actually don't have a problem with porn.  Adult porn.  Do what you want.  Leave me out of it, but it's none of my business.  But start mixing pictures of little girls??  It made me physically sick to look at.

But where did they find a link to *my* blog in this mess??  I scrolled and scrolled.  Eventually I had to look at the source code and I found it.

It was a layout I did a while back of my daughter and a friend's daughter.  Completely innocent.  Nothing sexual in it at all.  Sweet. 

Both the thumbnail-sized layout and the words from my blog were linked. I clicked on them both.  The layout has long been deleted from my digi-scrap gallery.  It came up page missing.  The only thing anyone could see was the tiny thumbnail of the layout.  If you click on the words, it comes up to the blog post I did with that layout.  I've now deleted that post in my blog.  So, when they click on the words, it comes up gone as well.

So, mine is gone.  Just empty pages but these people are out there.  Scrape-ing our photos.  Our layouts.  Our family web sites.  Our blogs.  Using our pictures in a way we can't even imagine.

I called the mom of the friend mentioned in my layout.  We're of the same mind.  There isn't any harm done.  Everything has been deleted and it's all so small that nothing can be read.

But it's still wrong.

Oh so wrong.

And what are we to do?  Hide in fear?  Keep everything off the internet.  Even though my family is scattered across the country and they enjoy the pictures and stories I post?

I have little fear from this for my daughter's safety.  But I still feel violated.

I'm going to continue to take safety precautions.  I will continue to NOT post names.  Or locations. Or school names. I won't post anything provocative in any way to an average person.  I've talked to my kids about internet safety.  And about strangers. And I will continue to track how people are finding my blog.

But I don't think I'm going to take everything down.

I don't think.  That would be letting them win. 

But seeing my sweet daughter amongst pictures of porn?

Oh man.

It does make me consider it.

Finally, I do NOT want to post the link to the site.  I don't want them to see traffic coming from my blog to them.  I don't want to give them any extra traffic.  But if any of you are worried, I'm going to spell it out here using the words dot and slash instead of the actual symbols.  You'll have to type it in for yourselves.  And be warned.  It does contain porn.  Don't have the kids around when you open it up.

It's www dot netart dot jp slash onanie slash little%20girls

It's disturbing.  It's sick.

And it makes me more aware of the safety precautions I can make and will continue to make.  If you post pictures or layouts on a blog or digi-scrap web site of your family, keep in mind what sort of people are out there.  And forward this information or a link to this post to anyone that posts pictures or layouts on line as well. 

We should all be aware of what's out there.

And yes, I know I can email and fight this.  But, I'm sure, there are 1,000s more sites just like this one.  And we aren't going to be able to stop them all.  All we can do is make sure we are comfortable with what we post and we have done all we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this sort of insanity.

edited to add: by request, here's a post on how I track the traffic to my blog.


Jody said...

So sickening! Nothing is sacred anymore.

My kids Don't like me posting photos of their children on the net and now I see why. I guess we are all going to have to blur the faces of our children and grandchildren when we do post layouts. I know this takes away from the LO, but better to be safe than sorry.

I do try not to put any identifying journalling on any LOs I upload (which sometimes makes the LOs look pretty boring and why I don't ever win any awards LOL). For real I do put identifying journalling but this is only for me and the pages I print out for the family.

Bev said...

That is so sick and terrible! The world is a scarry place. I try not to post very detailed pictures or layouts because you just can't trust people anymore! Now with the internet the world has become so much smaller and much more dangerous!

Laura said...

"Ok, I track statistics on this blog. For no other reason that curiosity. I like to see what pages get hit. I like to see where my visitors come from. I like to see which sites or blogs are referring people to me. If only so I can go over and visit them."

^^I really need to figure out how to do this!!

I too am sick by all of this.
Thanks for the info!

Happy Scrap Girl said...

Oh my goodness. I'm so sorry that this happened to you and your child. I don't understand what could possibly make someone so sick that that they need to do this.
MY DH has worked with Missing and Exploited children for a few years now and teaching internet safety to parents at the school districts in our area. It is for this reason that I work under an alias & do not post my name, childrens names, or where we live. There are too many sick people out there to take chances with our childrens lives. Good for you for taking down your childrens personal information and for realizing that you it's okay to continue to post your pages as long as you don't get too detailed in them.

I'm off to track my stats now :-)

Mary said...

Wow this is food for thought and I guess I really put this in the back of my mind so sad it happened it to you.

Tammy said...

This is so sad. But what do we do. Anything we do online can be hacked into. I post pictures of my grandkids and dogs all the time and maybe thats why I don't journal.

chantillylace said...

I'm sorry this has happened to you. It takes away the enjoyment of the internet. Last time I brought this up at DST saying that semi naked kids' photos become prey I was laughed at. Some people refuse to believe that even innocent photos are fair game to very sick people.

Meghan Justice said...

Wow, this really make me think! Is there a way you could post on your blog to tell us how to track the traffic coming into our blogs? Thanks for making me aware of these things. I am not going to post names anymore either. Thanks!

The Gray Family said...

OH Bethy I am so sorry! This is so disturbing! I can't believe how many sick people are out there.

bunnynose said...

Oh my Beth, I'm sorry this happened to you. It is sickening to see these people out there. So, I did check the site you mentioned since I can read Japanese. It seems like image search engine site (for those sick people) and it will catch any images that has the key words they type in. On the page you mentioned, I even found a LO from Digi Chick gallery and that's so scary. Now, I don't know how we can stop these guys, since you never know what kind things they find attracting... Not just "little girl" KWIM?

Mariafer said...

I thank you for your post too. I have been praying ALL day about what to do with my layouts. Thank you also bunny nose for your comment. I am going to make sure not to check words I use from now on.

But as Laura said I have no idea how to track statistics... is there a way you could tell us real quick! Thanks. Maria

afridigidiva said...

Oh Beth! OMG, this is bad bad bad. I don't blame you for taking down and streamlining your site. It's a good idea for all of us to be more cautious with photos and names.

Thank you so much for the warning and the reminder.

Anitza said...

I am sorry this happened to you. I have no children to protect, so I kind of take it as an internet fact. It really is sad though and very disturbing. Recently someone faved one of my photos on Flickr and when I went to see who it was and what sorts of photos they had fave'd, they had fave'd women cleaning up we floors. One after the other, with mops or rags drying up wet floors. Apparently, the barefoot ones were supposed to be even sexier. The photo I posted was ridiculous (you may have seen it on my blog) and here someone found it in a search and thought it was fappable material and saved it as a favorite.

A couple weeks ago, my coworker noticed that someone fave'd one of her photos. She was in a full body wetsuit out on some boat. Nothing fancy or sexy, just her in a wetsuit (and we all know wetsuits are not flattering as they add more girth!). Well, she was getting TONS of hits from a website where they posted a link to it. Apparently this site has a SCUBA/snorkel fetish. I. Kid. You. NOT.

So stuff like that makes me scratch my head and edit my settings on individual basis, but like you, I will not let it affect my online life. If I had kids to worry about, their identities would be worth protecting, but it is way too late for me, and in all honesty, I chose not to care about it. I am an adult and I can make that decision. You are doing the right thing for your kids, and I commend you for it.

Anonymous said...

I wanted you to know that I am a faithful follower of your blog, but I don't remember how I discovered it - other than it was a digital scrapping blog. Your "Freebies" and "Tutorials" have kept me coming back! Thank you for sharing all that you do. :)

Also, I am so sorry that this has happened. It is extremely disturbing and sad. Thankfully you were able to delete all the connections to that despicable blog. Thanks for the warning.

Barb said...

It's a fine line, for sure. I should probably post less than I do, but I'm okay with it right now and I watch where my hits are coming from. I'm sorry Beth.

Joy said...

I think I will send that link to my husband.. let him take a look at it.. I am sure he would forward it to the FBI.. I think the pigs need to be stopped as much as we can. I am so sorry you had this happen to you.

geezee said...

Our worst fears realized I pray the pictures can be removed. Once we put it out there it can go anywhere. What about pictures others take and post. Food for paranoia, for sure. Sorry you experienced this.

Sunny1972 said...

hi, I think there will always be these sick sort of people in society and you have dleted related post to your family. I also am careful about what I post and do not post any of my children in any state of undress i think I have one baby photo in a nappy.and often I see these LOs And I know they are innocent but I also know there are people out there who would use them some other way.

I have my own private blog for family only and by invitation and put family things on there. I think we should all be aware that it does happen and that it may happen to ourselves. unfortunately the internet is so huge and impossible to manage i think the message is to be aware, as you say

butterbly said...

This is so disturbing. I have always wanted to start a blog, but after reading this I am not too sure now. Still it worries me about the LOs they can get their grubby hands on, that makes me sick too.
Thanks for posting this as an important warning to us all.

Amber said...

((((Hugs)))) I hate to read that... IKWYM about feeling violated since I've had two similar experiences. One -- I took a belly pic of myself that some creepy guy made a 'favorite'. Turns out he had favorited several pics of very pregnant women and, get this, he had a fetish for dressing up HIMSELF as a pregnant woman! Two -- A completely innocent pic of my 2 yr old during potty training (you couldn't see A. THING.), yet someone had favorited it, just like my belly pic. I checked the rest of his favorites. MORE little girls going potty. SEVEN PAGES WORTH! I contacted several of the other parents thru the site's messaging and I also contacted Flikr who promptly deactivated the users account.

In both instances I deleted the pictures and after the second time (shame on me, right?!) I put almost all of them to 'private'. I try really hard to NEVER put anything on the net that would ID me or my exact location or my family's names. My LOs do show my kids faces but they don't have any info they could use to track us/them down.

The main thing is, if you don't want people knowing it, don't put it on-line *regardless* of whether you think it's a secure site or not. Didn't Sara Palin have her e-mail hacked?

Roberta T said...

Hi Beth, I got this from a link in dsp and I'm glad I did. It is always so important to remember that ANYONE can access our photos. It's a cautionary tale. I agree about names,places etc. I have to be more careful too. thanks for the warning.

Britiney said...

Beth, I've heard of other people tracking how people get to their blogs. Can you tell me how to do that? I'm curious. I had several new subscribers after posting pictures of my sister and her new baby. I'd love to see where they came from and I'm definitely going to consider taking those pictures off my blog. Thanks for this great information.

Christy said...

I was uneasy about posting my daughters photos in the online galleries so I tried to keep them only on one site. But after reading your post yesterday, I decided to take all of their pictures off. It left my galleries lacking alot since I mostly scrap pictures of my girls, but hopefully, my dds will be safer because of it. Thank you.

Amy said...

Your posting made me think about a PSA I saw recently. Made me think, then your note did even more...

Angeline said...

that's the dark side of having a blog isn't it? this post is perfect as I celebrate my 1st blogoversary that there are soooo many risk involved together with the enjoyment that blogging brings... hmmm....

Luke said...

I recommend reporting the site you found on

Muma said...

Thank you so much for writing this post. I showed the post and site you gave to DH and he felt very strongly about how wrong it is. Even though the LOs and photos are innocent, when put in to a gallery like that they become something completely different. That is so disturbing. Great advice and links in the comments to. Thanks everyone.

So sorry that it happened to you and I know I'm gonna be monitoring my blog from now on even though I have not posted on it in months.