Are Your Child’s Photos Safe Online?

instagram-logoThis post is in response to a recent story about a Melbourne mothers frustration at not being able to remove her 18 month old’s image from Instagram after she found out it was being misused. Read the comments on this story when you have timemany saying things like..”why did she post the pictures with a public account” “why didn’t she set her photos to private”etc

“Why do all the “Tech Heads” tell the rest of us, to protect our online accounts, and to use privacy settings and to keep our photos of our family offline….What a bunch of scare monger’s!”  I also read this type of comment a LOT also. 

When I give cyber safety talks, during the talk I make it a point of asking the audience to consider NOT posting pictures of their kids onlineI get a lot of shocked blank stares..I suspect that some of the attendees have probably uploaded so many pictures of their kids online on Facebook and Instagram that they just couldn’t imagine taking them down at any time. The job of deleting the pictures would be so large they would have to spend days completing it, and anyway they don’t believe all that fear mongering about privacy. A few in the audience nodagreeing with me. Some look back at me in alarm really concerned that anyone would actually put pictures of themselves onlinethese are usually the ones that are already too afraid to use a social media platform. With what I’m exposed to on a daily basis, dealing with and hearing about kids that are dealing with the misuse of their own image and whose parents are at a loss at how to stop and fix it. It’s not surprising that I live by this mantra and try to encourage others to do so also.

What is it going to take before you start securing your online home and protecting your family?

We live in an age where people are plastering “My Family” stickers all over their cars, we post pictures of our dinners, our homes, our cars, our kids, our pets and our holidays all over the internet with no regard to privacy settings or who might see them, we are really just a bunch of selfish show-offs. In the past our deep need to show off or even just brag a little, might have been served by displaying our kids trophies in our lounge rooms, bragging about our family holidays with showing slides after dinner, showing our business associates a picture of the family from a picture tucked in our wallet. The internet has changed all that, and we are now showing off all of the above and more to total strangers all over the globe  and bringing them virtually into our homes, we are giving them access to our trophies and our wallet family snaps and holiday slides to claim as their own, and use them as they wish. We are also showing them the layout of our homes, and where they are located, alerting them when to when we are away, or out to dinner, and so much more.

It is going to get worse before it gets better, it will take some time before people understand that what seems impossible today, will be possible tomorrow. Tracing of photos and facial recognition means that the more photos we have online the more likely anyone that doesn’t like you or your family can easily use that information to get at you, or bully you or your family.

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It Will Never Happen To Our Family…

You might feel that nothing you post online will be ever be used against you, but the more personal data you put up there the more likely it will be. Today your baby is 18 months old, by the time your child is 10 years old and other kids decides to pick on your child, there might be hundreds of photos of your child posted publicly that the other kid can easily get hold of to use to humiliate or bully your child. It is concerning how many people I meet who think they have protected private online accounts where they absolutely don’t.

How Do We Protect Our Privacy?

Firstly, we have to start questioning why we are posting so much personal details online, pictures of our family and our private moments. Why do we feel the need to do that. Are we simply showing off? Is it worth the risk?

There is no such thing as privacy on Facebook’s Timeline. Instagram and other photo apps, also have features that share your photos to a wider audience. If you want to share photos, send them via email, or post. Create a family “Dropbox”, or “Google Drive”, set up a private Facebook group. Don’t use a social media account with a dubious reputation for privacy or one that has a bad reputation for removing sensitive photos when asked to.

What About The Police?

The police is being run off their feet daily by people asking that they step in and try to find the people that have misused their personal photos posted online. Unless it falls into the category of being a crime, there is often little the Police can do.

Bottom Line

If you keep uploading personal photos of your kids online insecurely it’s not just a matter of IF your child’s photo will be misused in the future to humiliate embarrass or exploit, it’s a matter of WHEN, and it will most likely be done by someone you or child knows.

 

 

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  • Kim

    Just came across this and its super helpful! I ran across another article a few months back with similar content and made the decision not to share pictures of my child’s face on Facebook. If I do share pictures of her, it is something like her walking in the grass away from the camera or something.

    Question: I know there was a big deal awhile back about Facebook “owning” and potentially “selling” even privately set photos. Do you have any thoughts or a post on that? And I know Instagram has teamed up with Facebook now, does that mean Instagram has all the same permissions as Facebook?

    I’m trying to find a good avenue to share pictures online that I can give my family access to (maybe an access code?) so I can still share with family and friends without showing them to the world. Of course, I understand people could still download or screen shot the images, but at least with only family and close friends having access to it, maybe that would be better.

    • Hi Kim thanks for your comment. Because I’ve been online for so long…20 years I really don’t trust any platform to protect my private data. Time and again platforms are getting hacked or being found out to have sold our private data on. Facebook have been very careful to assure users of their safety as far as not selling our content on, but when we sign up we do allow them to use our content for advertising and to collate our online behaviour for use elsewhere. I don’t store my personal family photos online anywhere, other than private cloud services that I trust, and even then I make sure I enable encryption and 2 step verification where ever I can. Cloud storage is great if your house burns down and your back ups go with it. But be very careful and enable all available security and only use reputable companies with a long history. Some ideas for sharing photos would be via email, or via a private family group on a platform like Facebook, or Flickr but I would take your photos down after viewing don’t leave them up there, and set some rules that your photos can’t be shared on social media.