The rash of news stories involving stolen online child photos for advertisements, and even pornography, has made all manner of concerned parents shiver with hair-raising fear.
In a recent case, Pennsylvania mother Kaylee Dora discovered that images of her adorable son Noah were being used for sexual role playing games on Instagram, reports the Toronto Star.
Dora posted photos of Noah on Instagram not suspecting for one moment they would be use for illicit purposes. In addition to the photos been taken without permission and re-posted with insulting comments about her son, they were also posted under an anonymous account with stolen baby photos from social media that invite others to "adopt" or "role play."
For those of you unfamiliar with the seedy underground world of "baby role playing," the Toronto Star explains.
"In conversations in the comments under each photo, the adopter can describe normal situations like playing with or feeding the baby, but sometimes the fantasies veer into sexual games," writes the paper.
"Even a cursory search brings up dozens of baby role plays on Instagram, many which describe sex in front of or with babies."
One Toronto-area mother is so outraged by the practice of baby role playing that she started her own hashtag #downwithbabyrp as a way for people to speak out against it.
The practice is so obscure that even one of the country's leading experts in online child pornography, Det. Paul Krawczyk from the Toronto Police Service, had not heard of it until being interview by the Star.
The issue of people's personal photos being stolen from online social networks and used in ads, pornography, or for general degradation is not a new problem.
Just this week, a Tennessee couple made news for suing media companies for the use of altered and "offensive" images of their son with Down syndrome.
And back in 2005, Britney Spears threatened legal action after pictures of her newborn son popped up on the Internet, apparently stolen from a private photo shoot.