Recently, parents became the horrified victims of internet trolls who posted disturbing photos on Facebook. The trolls shamelessly posted some pretty morbid pictures of dead babies on parenting sites. They also stole the pictures of children and pasted them onto various pages along with some extremely lewd sexual comments.
All this, of course, led to a stream of protests from the parents. They submitted abuse reports to Facebook en masse. However, Facebook was late in responding, and it took a week before the offensive photos were taken off the internet. Facebook, of course, banned the trolls and disabled their accounts. However, the parents are now concerned that the photos will never completely disappear and that the trolls will just assume new internet identities in order to further spread their misdeeds.
What’s disturbing is that the trolls did not necessarily attack those whose privacy settings were set on low. They simply stole the pictures from parents who used their kids’ photos as their profile pics. This, of course, was their downfall. Profile pictures are visible to everyone and parents should be made aware of this. While it’s ‘cute’ to have your kids’ picture as your profile pic, it’s also very risky.
Of course, the logical solution to this would simply be to change your profile pic to something neutral, which is exactly what some parents did. But then again, this raises an extremely important question: How safe are we on Facebook, really? If you have to resort to borderline-paranoid methods in order to keep yourself protected, does that not indicate that something is seriously amiss? Isn’t Facebook just missing something vital? More security, perhaps, and better and quicker way to respond to abuse reports would be a step in the right direction.
The parents have asked Facebook to reveal the IP address of these trolls and to permanently ban it in order to prevent the incident from recurring. However, it’s still unknown whether Facebook will comply or not. After all, IP addresses can be shared, and banning the IP of those trolls might affect those who are simply sharing the network with them. It’s an unfair solution and one that won’t necessarily solve the problem. Besides, if Facebook can identify the users’ IP address, then they can help the police in tracking them, and that’s probably the best solution to this dilemma.
What the trolls did was nigh unforgivable. To target innocent children and to deface their pictures in public, with sexual connotations, no less, is something that these trolls should be liable for. But parents also have a responsibility to keep their children safe. So folks, no matter how tempting it is to use your child’s photo as your profile picture, please refrain from doing so. You would be putting them in the “frontlines”, so to speak, and this puts them at risk for trolls or worse.