As you surely already know, the Internet can be a very dangerous place – and social media has made it more dangerous still.
I have already written several posts warning parents about the dangers of posting photos of their small children online, and now the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has boosted the danger to an entirely new level.
In times past, pedophiles used Photoshop and similar apps to alter innocent photos of children to create child pornography. While that practice is despicable, it’s a relatively slow process that limits the person’s ability to generate lots of abusive images in a short period of time.
But unfortunately, image manipulation tools using AI now make it possible to crank out child pornography photos and videos in bulk, using nothing but the faces of children cropped from legitimate photos.
In a nutshell, the software digitally crops a child’s face from a legitimate image and then uses AI to create a child porn image or video depicting the sexual exploitation of that child.
Sound scary? Well it is. And unfortunately it’s already happening.
Where are the pedophiles getting the images of the children they exploit? Social media.
Many parents who use social media sites such as Facebook have countless photographs of their children posted on their accounts, making those photos easily available to the bots the pedophiles use to scrape profiles and steal the photos from them.
While setting your account’s privacy level to “Friends” (which you should most definitely do) can help hide your photos from bots, it’s far from fool-proof.
Truth be told, any photo that’s posted on a social media account with any privacy level lower than “Only me” could potentially be stolen and used to create child pornography.
With untold billions of child photos posted online, the odds that YOUR child’s photos will be stolen and used to generate these disgusting images are relatively low. However, those odds are greater than zero. And thanks to the use of scraper bots and AI those odds are increasing by the day.
I certainly understand the desires of parents to share photos of their children with their friends. Trust me, I get it. But I strongly recommend that you consider safer ways to share those photos with the people you really want to see them.
Bottom line: Once a photo is stolen and used to create a horrible fake image or video depicting your child being abused in the most despicable ways, there’s simply no going back. It’s out there, and it’ll stay out there forever.