With the proliferation of Facebook, along with other social networks and photo sharing sites, many parents, including myself, are curious about the safety of posting photos of their children online. When it comes to social sites, such as Facebook, I would certainly count myself in the “proceed with caution” category. But is it a legitimate concern or just paranoid fear?
I think most parents are on the overprotective side when it comes to their children, but with the ease of the technology and an excitement to share every moment with family and friends, it seems most act before thinking about potential consequences. Certainly the risk is extremely low for your child to be targeted and sought out solely based on an online photo, but if you’re uncomfortable with these same people possibly downloading and using these photos, as I am, then proceed with care. It is extremely difficult to control what happens to your photos once they are online, so you want to be sure you’re doing everything you can to prevent misappropriation.
When using photo storing sites such as Shutterfly, iPhoto and Snapfish, you can feel 99.9% sure that your photos are safe. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and others, however, are entirely a different story. The Facebook security setting in particular are very complex, so you really need to be on top of how your photos and information get shared, along with all of the inevitable changes that the site rolls out periodically.
Here are some quick tips on photo sharing on Facebook:
Know your friends… Many of us on Facebook have hundreds of “friends,” many of which we’re probably not all that sure about, or may not even know.
Check those security settings… Facebook allows you to set who can see your photos – friends, friends of friends or everyone. You can also manually create lists so that only those that you choose can see your photos.
Avoid listing names or other identifying information... Your child’s name, school name, friend’s names, etc. can be used to track their location.
Be aware of your phone’s GPS settings… Photos taken with iPhones and other smart phones are embedded with information that can pinpoint where the photo was actually taken. Best to turn off that function if you’ll be posting photos.
Communicate your wishes to friends and family… Often, loved ones are the culprits in posting your kids’ photos, and those are much more difficult to control and/or delete. Make sure everyone knows your personal stance.
Don’t post embarrassing photos.… We’ve probably all had memories of our parents showing an embarrassing photo to dinner guests. Well, imagine hundreds upon hundreds of people seeing the same thing, along with judgmental peers. It may be cute to you at the time, but could be potentially devastating to your child down the road.
So, it may seem we’re harping on Facebook a little here, but we found this infographic recently that illustrates the world’s largest photo libraries. Powerful stuff! Although it is unlikely anything bad will happen by posting that cute photo of your kid’s first bike ride, my advice would be to just think before you post.