How to find out if someone is using your child’s images online

Just when you thought the internet couldn’t get any creepier. There is apparently a disturbing trend going on called “digital kidnapping.” And if that phrase is new to you, allow me to fully weird you out. “Digital kidnapping” is when someone steals a stranger’s baby photos and reposts them on the Internet. Sometimes, these virtual photo thieves will pass the snapshots off as their own. But other times, it goes a step further. Just last week, a couple took the photos of a child suffering with cancer from a Go Fund Me page and went door to door trying to collect money for funeral costs. They weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer because they got caught after going to the child’s grandparents work place…

Another example found on Instagram, accounts were being set up specifically to encourage others to join in on “adoption role playing,” inventing new identities for each child and inviting users to chime in.

So, in the wake of recent news reports about digital kidnapping, it’s important that parents know what can be done to see if anyone is using your child’s photo.

Once you post a picture online, it’s hard to know where it’s going to end up. Most likely, it will be one of the millions that people scroll past on their Facebook feed every day. Considerably less likely, it could go viral and become a meme. But somewhere in between those possibilities, is the potential for that image to be used by strangers for all the wrong reasons. Pictures of your children could end up in the hands of people with intentions that would make you cringe.

Here’s a quick, simple tutorial on how to do a reverse image search on Google so you can find out where your personal pictures might have gotten to beyond where they were originally posted.

1: Go to and click “Images.” 2: In the search bar, click the camera icon. 3: Either upload a picture from your computer or enter the URL of a picture to search for it. 4: Google will return every instance of that image they can find

Ultimately, the most important thing for anyone to do is to be careful of what you post online and to always enable the privacy setting on your accounts. When you do a reverse Google image search, hopefully you will find that your, or your child’s photos, aren’t anywhere they’re not supposed to be. Google isn’t the only company to offer this service. You can also search for specific images using TinEye, BING and Copyscape.

  1. Google Reverse Image Search.  This is my default go-to for looking out sources of images.  You click on the camera icon in the search bar and upload the image.  Google then brings up the sources for the image that you searched for.
  2.  TinEye.This works in a similar way as Google Reverse Image Search and the results are usually the same but not always.
  3.  Copyscape.This works in the same way as the above but for written words instead of pictures.

(Unfortunately, you cannot do this on your phone. So if you want to check any images shared on a social media app, you’ll have to log into their website.

More information on how to find out if your images have been stolen:

If you find your intellectual products or images are being used, here’s some info on what you can do.

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