Photographer sends warning after son's pictures end up on disturbing Instagram page

A blurred screen grab shows a disturbing Instagram page for people who "like strong boys." (Photo: KFMB)

SAN DIEGO (WTHR) — A photographer and mom is warning parents about disturbing Instagram accounts after her son's pictures appeared on the page.

Andrea Van Wagner set up an Instagram account to promote her professional photography business. She does professional photography for kids, sports and families, she told KFMB.

Van Wagner said she posts both professional photos and fun pictures of her own kids on her account — including a recent photo of her 9-year-old son Cole after he had just won a wrestling tournament.

"He has a singlet on and he was really proud," Van Wagner said.

It was a nice post, until shortly after she realized another account using a handle that referenced liking strong boys had gotten a hold of the photo. She requested to follow the private account because she noticed it was a "kind of creepy handle." When she was accepted, she was taken aback by what she saw.

"I saw about 4,000 pictures of athletic kids with their shirts off," she said. She realized the account was part of a larger network of similar accounts that post pictures of other kids — mostly boys — including one account that had "enjoy the shirtless boys" in the bio.

Van Wagner looked through some of the accounts and noticed they were mostly older males running the fetish pages. Most of the accounts only followed kids' pages.

When she asked the user who had posted the photo of her son to remove it, he replied, "I'm not posting pictures of pornography." That's when Van Wagner reached out to Instagram, and they gave her a long process she'd have to go through to get the photo removed.

Instagram said they would continue the investigation, but after a week, Van Wagner still had not received a response and the photo was still on the page. She got in touch with police, but because the photo is not pornography, they only took a report.

Now the mom is cautioning other parents about what photos they post of their children because other people could have more suspicious motives.

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