Posting pictures to social media – Keep your children safe

The dangers of posting your kids’ photos online

There are a number of factors that you need to think about before posting pictures of your children online, and with the advent of social media, two things have changed. First, social media is all-pervasive. You can't ignore it or put it to one side. Secondly, it can be incredibly difficult to delete content once it's been posted online. Multiple 'likes' and 'shares' could send a picture of your child halfway round the world, to people you don't even know, and once it's on someone else's hard disk, you'll never be able to remove it.



Sharing your kid’s photos online - privacy and legal issues

Babies by definition can't give informed consent to the reproduction of a photo. Nonetheless, you need to think about privacy issues, particularly as your children grow older.

Since children are old enough to understand social media, you ought to start asking for their permission to post photos online. You're not just respecting your kids' privacy; you're also helping to introduce them to concepts of online etiquette. Involve them in the process of deciding which photos are okay to post and who gets to see the photo, as well as actually posting the photos. It's a nice way to create a project that will get them acquainted with the way social media works. You'll also be helping them understand that posting pictures online has safety issues attached, long before they can get their own Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram account.

Remember that if you take pictures of other people's children, you should never share those photos without their consent. If you've taken pictures at a sports event, for instance, or at a sleepover, remember to ask the other parents if they're cool with sharing the photos. And if other people show your kids in photos on Facebook, and you're not happy about it, you're within your rights to ask for the photos to be removed, as long as they're under 13 (the age at which they can get their own Facebook account).

Schools, sports clubs, and other youth organizations should have their own social media policies. They should always obtain your consent before publishing any photos of your children. Try to ensure that if you give consent, it's related to particular events or photo shoots, rather than a blanket consent.

Also, if you have a professional take portrait of your kids, make sure you know the rules about copyright and ask whether it's okay to share privately. Some professionals create their own safe platforms where your family and friends can log in to see the photos.


How to keep your kid’s photos safe

  • Check your social media privacy settings. Restrict your posts to 'friends only’ and make sure that they don't have the right to re-share the photos.

  • Talk to your close friends and family about privacy, so they don't wildly share your photos.

  • Check your Friends list and remove people who are not close friends. People you met on vacation who were quite nice, people who are friends of friends, and people you added just to be polite are a security risk when you're posting photos of your children.

  • Turn off metadata (also known as EXIF data) and geotagging for your photos. That means no one can locate your children using the photo metadata. Or ensure that the platform you are sharing from will strip the EXIF data from your photos. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exif

  • Don't include other data that outsiders could use to identify your kids, such as their full names, date of birth, or the school they attend. Using nicknames or descriptive phrases is a good way to stop someone trawling for identities - "my little Sprout", "our little Princess", or "the Incredible Jumping Bean" will stop outsiders ID-ing your kids.

  • No nude or semi-nude photos should be posted of your kids. If there's the slightest doubt in your mind about a photo, don't post it.

The internet is an indispensable tool for keeping in touch with family and friends who may live several states away (or across the world). Connected technology makes sharing videos and photos a fast, easy process. However, parents should be aware of the risks– no parent wants to find a photo of their 4-year-old being used on a social networking site in a foreign country1.

When it comes to building an online reputation for yourself and your children, it’s important to learn to be confident and competent online– in this way you can avoid the risks and keep your family (and your photos) safe. We have the following five suggestions for confident and competent photo sharing:

1. Choose a platform that offers privacy settings, has a clear terms of service agreement and provides an easy way to report abuse. You want to know that someone will answer your complaint.

2. Use privacy settings that allow only family and friends (and not the whole world) to view photos of your children.

3. Choose your photos carefully. Everything posted online is saved in a cache file. These cache files are stored in locations all over the world. Even if you’ve chosen a platform with good privacy and security features, once you upload photo files online– you lose complete control over them.

4. Limit the identifiable information that goes with the photo. Don’t publish the private information (such as birthdays, maiden names and cities where your child was born). Hackers can use this information to access bank accounts and credit cards.

5. Remember: everything we post on the web creates a digital footprint. Protect your children by not identifying them in a way that could hurt their future academic or employment opportunities.

To understand the capabilities & security of your Facebook account check out https://www.facebook.com/privacy/checkup/?source=settings_and_privacy

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