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Digital Hijacking: the alarming new social media trend

Posted at 9:02 PM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 23:12:18-05

Just when many thought the internet couldn't get any creepier, another alarming trend.

Imagine discovering your picture on someone else’s social media site or finding a person pretending to be you? It’s known as digital hijacking and it may impact your social media habits. Most of it has to do with people sharing too many photos on social media. “People just want to keep posting, they get caught up on the social media storm and then it's just almost automatic,” and FBI spokesman tells KGUN Nine.

As disturbing as it may sound, it’s games and fantasies played with other people's photos. "It's difficult thing to think about, nobody ever wants to have the thought that you know posting a picture instantly online on the internet or the web would then cause other issues to be utilized by someone else,” the FBI spokesman added.

A frightening situation to be put in for anyone, to learn their picture is being used by someone else on social media platforms and, in some cases, even dating sites. The impact it may have on the victims can be rather disturbing. “The victims will go through anger and denial and a lot of issues, not understanding how this could possibly happen,” he said.

Unfortunately, there's another problem, which may be even bigger and sometimes impossible. Which is getting that picture removed. "There are some rights hat are guaranteed to people, but they're not 100-percent,” he affirmed. In many cases, the photo is shared numerous times in social media websites and tracking down the original kidnapper or even the owner can be tricky. "Sometimes we have had incident where people have actually then blocked the original owner websites and then maintain those photographs,” he said. “They go through a process to prove to the social media provider that the photo is indeed theirs,” he added.

According to the FBI, there are many things you can do to protect your images, but even that doesn't completely guarantee they'll be safe.

Experts say if you don't want photos stolen, don't post them. But, if you can't stay away from sharing photos on social media, there are some precautions you can take.

They advise to:

  • Use the strictest privacy settings on social media sites, which can prevent people from stealing photos.
  • Download free apps or use a website that allows you to put a watermark on your images.

So, before you share your selfies on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, just remember those photos can be used for public usage and they can be publicly hijacked.

You may want to take the necessary precautions before this disturbing trend forces you to change your social media habits.