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.
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?
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.