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Can You Post Pictures of Other People's Children?

digital footprints and identity Feb 03, 2018

What is the proper online etiquette or netiquette for posting pictures online of other people’s children?

This is a question I usually get as people head out on vacations (usually sun-filled vacations) as they take pictures of children, friends and family on the beach, in parcs, hanging out, and enjoying themselves.  So, can you post pictures of other people's children?

Um, in a short answer. NO.  But if you do, here is a quick checklist:

  • No photos where the kids are easily recognizable.
  • No photos where the kids are in skimpy beach wear and bathing suits.  (Please don't think I'm being ultra paranoid. There is a reason behind this. In my consultancy work in children's rights and internet stuff, unfortunately see the underside and icky stuff of online issues affecting children.  And it is regularly reported about social media photos being stolen, photoshopped and then re-appearing on porn sites. So trust me, no photos of your kids in skimpy gear.)
  • No geolocalisation features
  • No names - a no-brainer, but it does happen. Think about the digital footprint that you are creating for that child.  Do you want that future college recruiter or employer looking at photos of that child romping on the beach.
  • If you are at a sports event, school event, try to focus on your children and not the entire class. Unless you have prior permission from other parent's, I would err on the side of caution.
  • Last question to ask yourself: would YOUR child be okay with this? You know your own child. Does he like it when you take tons of photos? Does she like it when you pull out the family album? Is he a bit shy about his body? Does she want to remain fully dressed at the doctor's office?  If your answer is YES to any of those, questions for your OWN child, why would you post photos of a child that you don't know?

Obviously, these same questions can be asked when you post pictures of your own child.  So please do stop and think for a second. 

How many of you have been faced with this problem? What about finding your child tagged in a photo - when you had YOUR settings set to privacy and only shared with family and friends?

If you a story that you want to share (anonymously) about an Internet scare or a tech concern that you had – and how you overcame it - I would love to hear from you.

If you have a question about an Internet risk, please send me a message at [email protected] so that I can respond and share with other parents.

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