Exposed

There was a question on someone’s blog recently about what sort of guidelines, if any, we have when posting things to the internet. I wish I could remember whose blog it was, but I can’t. I’m old now and I read a lot of blogs – those are my excuses. But please identify yourself so I can give you credit for having this question rolling around in my head for the last week or so.

I’ve also been keeping in mind Gabriel’s very comprehensive post on the internet privacy fallacy.

Anyway, what I started to answer to the first blogger’s question is that I wouldn’t share anything on the internet that I wouldn’t share with a large face-to-face group of strangers — as a general rule of thumb.

I know I’m going to get lots of hell for this because I’ve already had this discussion in person with some bloggers who vehemently disagreed, but one of the things that always leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable is when people post pictures of their kids on the internet.

I totally understand the desire to share your children’s adorability with your blog friends, I really do. And I have pictures of my daughter on my Facebook and she has tons pictures of herself on her Facebook. For some reason I think Facebook’s less accessible, but I know I’m probably wrong. And my daughter’s almost an adult and not quite so vulnerable. And I monitor the sorts of pictures she posts pretty carefully.

Anyway, I regularly see gorgeous photos and videos of people’s beautiful children on their blogs. The kids are happy or sad or sleeping or doing stuff like playing with their pets or frolicking in the snow,  dancing and singing around the living room, jumping on their beds, having temper tantrums on the kitchen floor or enjoying a bubble bath. And they’re innocently lovely and funny and touching — all of them.

But, I can also see how some, maybe even all, of these photos/videos could be taken and used for purposes that aren’t innocent and lovely. In addition, people often have enough information on their blog to make the children easily found if someone really put their mind to it.

Even if that’s unlikely to happen, the thought of what these charming photos of children could possibly be used for gives me the heebie-jeebies. And, okay maybe I’m being unnecessarily paranoid and the chances of someone finding your particular photo out of the zillions of photos on the internet might be really, really slim. And probably your kids are exposed to more weirdos in their every day life than they ever could be on the internet. But still…

People do troll the internet looking for what they see as provocative photos of children. And their idea of provocative could be anything – even just a certain smile. Who knows?

A while ago, friend just back from a family vacation, posted photos of her young kids swimming. She put them on flickr and marked them private to share just with friends and family. One day she noticed that those particular photos had over a thousand hits each. Creepy.

I don’t know how people find this stuff or why. My recent “infrequently touted harbinger of spring” photo (which is most definitelyNOT my child, by the way and which I will not be linking here) is seeing more activity each and every day than all my other blog posts put together ever have. What the hell? It’s a slightly unzipped coat. That’s also kind of creepy.

So, those photos you post of your kids on your blogs — would you hand out 500 or 1,000 or more copies of those same photos to a random group of strangers at an airport, for instance? With your kid’s name and home city stamped on the back?

What are your thoughts/rules/experiences with this?

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44 responses to “Exposed

  1. My thoughts are the same as those from the police officers I’ve interviewed who work to stop paedophiles… there’s such a thing as soft-core child porn. Children in bathing suits, children in bathtubs, kids at the beach, young faces. If you put them online, especially if you put them on Flickr and tag them as “kids; beach; child; pool party; baby photos; first day at school” your photos will be found by people looking for masturbation material. And there’s a really, really good chance they’ll be stolen and reposted somewhere else.

    The first serious story I ever wrote for a newspaper the cop in charge of the OPP paedophile squad (basically) asked me… people don’t stand on street corners handing out photos of their kid at the beach to strangers, why do they think it’s safe to do it online?

    The thing about my little post (which you’ve kindly linked to) is it’s not comprehensive. It’s not even close. I just wanted to show people what was possible… being online on your home computer is not a mystical shield against people who want to do you harm.

  2. I agree completely with you. While there are some definite cute photos of kids out there, the whole concept of doing it makes me uncomfortable. Tends to attract too many losers and scumbags.

    P.S. I emailed that address for the breakfast. Did you or whoever checks that account get it?:)

  3. I’ve been posting fewer and fewer pics of the kids for this very reason, and Jo and I have talked about editing all posts to remove the pics. I was very naive when I started my blog and literarly made it for far away friends and family as a way to keep in touch. And then, as you know, you start to realize that more and more people are reading you (I installed a hit counter last week and I’m at 575. Really??? That’s crazy). I do feel like it is being a little paranoid, but, there are some crazy mo fo’s out there and I do not the idea of them looking at pics of my girls.

  4. My son has been on TV and in print photographs in newspapers that had his name and age on them. I’m fine with this. Why wouldn’t I be with posting his photo on a much less widely read/viewed blog? He’s a part of my life. I know people can figure out who I am, they can figure out who The Man is. So? Pictures of my son are all over my office. Who the heck knows who has seen him there? (I work in a really large office.) Who is snapping photos of your daughter as she walks to school? While she’s a the mall? I just don’t live my life terribly worried about it. Naive? Maybe. Am I going to stop? No.

    As a former reporter, I can tell you that what we can find out about each other is astonishing. Privacy is an illusion, it always has been. It’s just more widely available than it was.

    Facebook. Now Facebook worries me.

  5. Gabriel – Thanks for the additional, inside information and for making me sound not paranoid at all. Eeek. Of course, one of the arguments made the last time I had this discussion with people was, “So what if some perv uses your kids’ photos? It’s not hurting your kids is it?” There’s probably a whole other post in that question.

    A&J – You don’t post photos of yourself. Personal photos seem to get the most weirdo traffic.

    Hannah – Sad but true. There was even a story going around once upon a time that pedophiles stole people’s Christmas cards (either from the post office or from mail-boxes, I can’t remember which) because there were usually photos of kids included. And yes, we did get your email. We’ll be sending out confirmations and details in a few days when we’ve heard from everybody.

    Meanie – 575?? Per day? Wow, you ARE rocking. I was hovering around 450 until the unzipped coat thing. My stats will show which post the hits are for as well, so I can see that one is getting waaaaaaay too many. Wise move about the photos, I think. You’ll have to send pics by email. That still seems relatively safe. Sigh…

    Nat – You’re absolutely right. Privacy IS an illusion and my kid could very well be photographed on the street and has had her photo in various print materials. But I think anything on the internet is much, much, much more widely accessible than any newspaper or TV show. And internet pictures are much more shareable than TV or newspaper photos. And probably nobody is stealing your son’s photos off your blog. And even if they did you’d never know about it and it wouldn’t affect you or your son’s life in any way. But to me, it’s just one big door that I’d like to keep closed. There are plenty of others that I can’t do much about, but I can do something about this one.

  6. oh heavens, no. that is 575 since last week. I would start making some money and install little advertising buttons all over the place if it was 575 per day.

  7. Mine’s just a little different: I wouldn’t share anything on the internet that I wouldn’t share with a large face-to-face mixed group of strangers, coworkers, family and friends.

    I don’t share images of my grandkids, or if I do, they’re in a crowd in a recreational setting and not identified as family or it’s their back as we are going down the trail.

    I also try not to talk about family, friends, or coworkers in a way that they might be offended. My blog is open to family, friends, and former coworkers.

  8. I understand what you’re saying, and it’s that paranoia that led me to be anonymous on the blog when I created it. I’m vague about where we are and who we are, and yes, my daughter’s picture is on the blog, but this is a big place. If someone wanted to do us harm, they would find a way, internet postings or not.

    This being said, I had a stalker in college who found me online. It freaked me out so much so that I instantly changed my behavior online, and that was over 15 years ago. Old habits die hard.

    Now, I’ve had a writing opportunity fall into my lap that will require the veil of anonymity to come down a little, but I’m not too worried about it. As my daughter gets older, we’ll post fewer and fewer photos of her, or find a way to capture her personality in a creative way.

    The way I look at it is this. When I get my book deal (a goal of mine), I’d be proud to have a photo of my family on the dust jacket. I’ll want to do signing tours. The veil of anonymity will need to be replaced by a shield of protection at that point.

    Weirdos are weirdos and will follow you home from the grocery store if that’s their intent.

    I try to keep things as safe as I can without having to wear my tinfoil hat every day. It makes my head itch. 🙂

  9. I post pictures of me and of my girls on my blog. We are identified only by first names. I did a google search of both my girls’ full names and the only hits I got was from archived copies of the church newsletter mentioning their baptisms.

    As with Nat’s son, both my girls have been in the newspaper, identified by name. I don’t worry about it too much. That being said, none of the pictures posted shows them at all unclothed.

    I find I’m posting fewer pictures of them more as a result of the fact that I’m aware that they may not want certain photos of them on my blog, or they may not want me to tell certain stories about them. I always ask them before I post.

  10. As if my other comment wasn’t long enough already, I forgot to mention something! I am a relatively open person and have no problem sharing antics or stories with a large room of people, and those are the kinds of stories I share online.

    I don’t, however, say something online that I wouldn’t say in front of my mother. I don’t swear. I keep personal/intimate stories of my hubby to myself, and I respect his privacy. When my daughter is old enough, there will be stories that I won’t recount in a googleable manner, or maybe I’ll create short stories with another character that is her age? Who knows.

    Also, I know and communicate with a lot of people. I have two Facebook accounts…one for the blogging personality and one for my offline personality. The offline one has 330 “friends” (and counting) and they all know I have a blog…

  11. The problem with being paranoid is where do you stop? There will always be some opportunity for some pervert somewhere to catch a glimpse of our kids, whether it’s in person, on the internet, or whatever. We can’t control it unless we lock up our kids and never let anybody see them or see pictures of them.

    I figure we just have to live with certain risks, and this is one of them. All we can do is educate our kids about the risks and try to protect them from getting in actual, real, physical danger. We can’t protect them from other people’s fantasies, nor do we need to.

  12. Okay, guilty. I do it. I’m not worried by it. Yep, I love to share pix of my kids, and yes, if I terrible, sick, damaged person wanted to, they could probably find them in person.

    But you know what? Random bad things happen and I just try not to worry about them happening to me and mine. I refuse to live my life in fear of what might happen to the point it affects what I am doing, yanno? More or less what Zoom said above.

    Having said that, just this week I broke one of my own personal rules and posted a naked-butt baby pic, and I’ve been feeling uncomfortable with it. I am having an ongoing argument in my head, with “it’s a gigantic internet and the risks are hugely overstated and I really don’t want to live in fear” battling “but what if, what if, what if, and why would you even take the risk?”

    The short answer is, I’ll keep posting the pictures of them playing, them laughing, them being the lovely little creatures that they are. But I think tonight I’m going to take down the cheeky baby butt pic. You’ve got to trust your instincts, I guess. Thanks for posting this, and thanks for the thoughtful comments above mine.

  13. Like you, I only post things that I would say to a group of strangers. And if I had children, their pictures definitely wouldn’t make their way onto my blog. And I have never posted a picture of friends or family’s kids. Nor will I.

    I figure since a blog is (very) a public forum, for me it’s not a place to post very private stuff. I’m not saying I never will, but I do know that I tend to stay away from blogs that are too personal – they make me cringe a bit. There are some personal things on my blog – pictures of trips, etc. but I try not to bare my soul. If other people’s personal blogs make me cringe… well I’m not about to do it myself, ya know? There are journals for that, or at the very least making your blog private.

    As for Facebook – I did open an account to see what it was about, but quickly lost interest (my profile wasn’t even filled out, no pics, no personal information whatsoever). I don’t think it’s any more private – nothing is easier than opening an account and wandering around there. If anything, it’s even more creepy, because so many people post so much information on themselves in there.

  14. Wasn’t it in the Misssy M Missives?

    Sorry, no time for substantial answer, off to see a girlfriend… but I think it was Missy’s blog.

  15. I don’t have kids, but I have friends (e.g. http://www.tricolour.net/) who obsessively post photos of their children (as well as everything else).

    But I’m sure some people pick up department store catalogues to ogle the children in the photos. And isn’t there that old joke about a woman showing an ankle to have been risqué in Victorian times?

    The argument that ‘you shouldn’t post photos of X on the internet because some people like to masturbate to photos of X’ is flawed, because there are people with fetishes for just about any value of “X”. Yes, there’s the risk that they will stalk you or your children, and I don’t know what can be done about that.

    But the argument you are suggesting, leading toward saying that nobody should post photos of themselves if someone might sexualize it is just a form of moral terrorism that will lead to only ugly people and porn being depicted on the internet. This will lead to a social mindset that if someone is attractive, they must be in the porn/sex industry, which will have dire consequences for attractive people walking down the street.

    Okay, so I’m being a bit facetious here, but it essentially boils down to a “blaming the victim” argument. Yes, there are things you can do to prevent your children from being stalked, but in the end it’s the stalker who is doing wrong. And really the chances of that are really low.

    (I avoid posting photos of myself because I consider my face to be part of my IRL identity, which I like to keep separate from my online identity. Which causes an identity crisis of its own.)

    – RG>

  16. Thanks for the link to Gabriel’s list.

    Yes, blame the victim came to my mind too. The analogy of don’t sit unless your knees are holding a dime or you’re asking for it…

    I was raised in an environment where mom got heebie-jeebies at pampers commercials and remarked often on how much gratification they’re giving someone out there.

    Is it cautious to prevent the possible but statistically improbable? How much would “protection policy” crimp how one would normally live? and how much would it create, even if in your own head, the very reality you try to prevent?

    I make a practice of not sharing where I live (beyond city), details of where I work or with who. I have qualms about posting photos of kids. Or even posting words with blog scrapers around.

    Online is access to anyone who opts in for the next few decades remixing the data as they choose.

    Some people may make a parlour strategy game of cracking the code of who a blogger “really is”. One person tracked my IP thru comments, found my domain name registration address, searched, found an unlinked blog and email address and went “aha! gotcha”. An amusing exercise for her no doubt but creepy as hell.

    My philosophy is that there is no lock, door, education or martial art sufficient to protect yourself from anyone intent enough.

    My blog rule is: Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to fess up to gramma and nothing you wouldn’t stand behind if mother-in-law or boss were to overhear.

    I use as a criteria: post in the light of how would it look to someone who is using your last entry as an entry point to you.

  17. xup.

    i’m glad you are writing about this and i couldn’t agree with you more. as you know i am new to the blogging world and although some could accuse me of speaking of my kids endlessly, i have not yet posted pictures of them taken head on because i am simply afraid. i think it’s a sad and scary world that we live in. unfortunately we need to keep this in mind and never ever do anything that might put us or our children in harms way, even a little. i feel badly about not feeling comfortable about posting photos because i am proud and wanna show them off. they are beautiful (ahem, they take this after their mom of course!) but i just can’t. i even worry about the ones that i have posted so far of the backs of their heads etc and photos of my dog and cat! crazy i know but you just never can tell. there are many out there that have nothing better to do than to troll the internet as you say and hurt others. i even worry about taking photos of scenery, stores around where i live, stop signs, store signs, becuase as you have correctly pointed out, if someone really took a likely to your child or you, they could find you.

    world tht http://momofboxer.blogspot.com/2009/02/silver-men-san-francisco.html

  18. The reason I posted my piece on Internet privacy is because people are generally ignorant of what happens or what’s even possible online. I didn’t write it about child porn, or anything specific beyond what’s possible using only the basic tools available to everyone online. This isn’t paranoia, it’s about being informed.

    People can post all the photos of their kids they want, but as soon as they start using tags and categories as means to archive them those photos become available to the general public using simple searches.

    If all you’ve got is a small blog shared between family and friends, it’s not such a big deal. In a Google search your site will come up somewhere between one million and two million. But, if you’re posting the photos in forums like Flickr, those tags and categories make those searches infinitely easier. Now your site is somewhere in the top 1000.

    To use a real world analogy, using Flickr without understanding the security features is like putting photos of your kids on your desk at work, which is great… until you come back from your coffee break and find someone photocopying them. Nothing illegal going on, but infinitely creepy.

    If you want to show your friends and family your photos, doing it online is easy and effective. There are simple ways to increase the security of your Flickr account, and not using tags and categories is the first step. But most people don’t bother with any of the security features Flickr offers because most people don’t read the “How To” section beyond the “upload photos” section. Which was the point of my little post.

  19. Meanie – I think you still need way more than 575 hits to make any money.

    Mike – Ya, that seems sensible to me, too.

    CP – Yes, of course the nuts can find you anywhere if they really want to, but the internet is so damn easy and SO accessible; why make it any easier for them?

    Alison – You doing a google search is a lot different than a “professional” doing a search — not necessarily for your kids by name but any kid with a certain set of criteria. And whether or not they’re unclothed doesn’t make much of a difference, I think.

    Zoom – You’re right. You can’t protect your kids from other people’s fantasies, but you also don’t have to offer up your kids to them either. Sure, they’re vulnerable everywhere, but nowhere as vulnerable as on the internet. I’d be a little ticked off if one day I found pictures of myself all over some child porn site because my mother had plastered my photos on her blog waaaaaaay back when (if there had been blogs or internet or computers waaaaaaay back then)

    DaniGirl – “Random” bad things do happen, but I think we all take precautions to try to avoid as many bad things happening to us as possible, don’t we? We don’t wander around in the middle of the night all all alone in dangerous neighbourhoods; we don’t get in a car with strangers; we lock our doors; we have annual health check-ups; we take out insurance, etc.etc.

    Jazz- Right! The internet is as public a place as you could possibly be — whether you think only 12 people read your blog or not.

    Gila – Ah, thanks. I’ll go and look. And sorry, for some reason my blog keeps thinking your comments are spam. Yours is not the only one either, so I do check the spam list every day to see who got sucked in there by mistake.

    RealGrouchy – Of course it’s the stalker/perv who’s doing wrong, but that doesn’t mean we should all live like there’s no such thing as stalkers/pervs. And I have no objection whatsoever with grown-ups posting any photos they want of themselves or writing whatever they want about themselves. I’m just uncomfortable with people posting photos of kids. Because the kids have no say in the matter; they don’t understand where their photos are going and maybe, like I said to Zoom, they wouldn’t be too happy one day to find out their photos ended up on some porn site. I’m not blaming the kids and I’m not blaming the parents because they believe only friends and family will be enjoying those photos. And they’re probably right. But why risk it when there are safer ways to share your kids’ photos? There are certain liberties I don’t think even we as parents have a right to take with our children.

    Pearl – Would it make a difference if statistics showed that 50% of photos of kids posted on the internet ended up in porn sites? As opposed to 5%? Or 1%? When do you decide that the odds are worth the risk?

    Raino – The world is certainly a lot scarier and smaller than when we were kids and I don’t think you’re hampering your kids’ growth or freedom or anything by erring on the side of caution.

  20. To me, posting ANYTHING personal on the internet is at least questionable if not outright dangerous.
    I had my pictures posted online, in a CLOSED forum and the fact that I had done that became common knowledge even though I hadn’t my face in any of the pictures (I had my face bearded up and always wore glasses) ANYHOW…..
    Once upon a time the internet was a sweet and innocent place – now 1 in 8 sites are porn or porn related. (http://www.enough.org/inside.php?id=2UXKJWRY8)
    Its not a safe place for ANYONE any more.
    And yes even though I have a facebook page you’d never find it unless you knew who I was.

  21. While I’m guilty of putting my kids out there on the internet, I’ve tried to be careful what sorts of photos I post. Never any bathtub shots or naked babies. I did remove a couple of photos after getting searches for ‘toddler without shirt’ (a photo of gab at a library halloween party where she had taken off her shirt unbeknownst to me…i chose a photo with her arm covering most of her bare chest, but still was freaked out by whatever sick fuck was most likely getting their jollies off…i had even been very careful in my wording in the post, but someone in the comments mentioned that exact phrase ‘toddler without a shirt’ and voila!).

    I do worry about having put my kids out there in the slight fashion that I have. And, go through phases of deciding I’m not going to write about them at all anymore. Then, someone will say, “Hey, how are those kiddos? Let’s see some photos!” And, them boom. I’m blogging about birthdays and dumps again.

    As far as what I say about them online, I only write things I know they would laugh about if they were to read them. I’d never embarrass or humiliate them. I usually have the 13-year-old read anything I write about him. And, he always laughs. So, there’s that.

    I have toned down what I say about others that might come back to bite me in the ass. Not that I was saying much of anything scandalous in the first place, but I’m just erring on the side of caution. WHICH brings me back to why the hell am I flapping my gums on the internet in the first place. Thanks. Now I’m going to flip-out and delete my blog altogether.

  22. I don’t give away nearly as much info as some do…

    On the flip-side, my blog is primarily a parenting site, and without pictures of parenting things (i.e. kids), many wouldn’t visit. I know if a parenting site I’m reading doesn’t make me feel like I “know them” (and photos are one way), I don’t usually go back.

    The reasons I visit your site are different, and there’s no need for you to post photos of your daughter on this site, because you aren’t running a parenting site.

    On my site, there are no blatant photos of myself (yet), and there are zero of my hubby. There are keywords that I’ve been advised to NOT post in correlation with my blog, so I don’t do that.

    The photos I post of my daughter are no more intimate than what’s been posted in International Publications…which reminds me! When we voted early in the Presidential Election, a reporter from Reuters was there and took our photos. Our name, location, and photos showed up in publications all over the world.

    (Yes, I have an alert set on our names via Google, just to keep tabs on where we pop up…)

  23. Since my daughter is 24, I don’t really have a lot of thoughts on little kids’ pics, but she did say to me a year or two ago that I “should “ask her permission” to post any pictures of her and I answered, “Whut? You came out of my belly. I own you.”

  24. I wrote about this very issue recently as well, the idea of privacy and our fantasy that we live in a bubble where the things we post on the Internet will not be abused. One of the things I touched on when I talked about photographs of children was that aside from the perspective of the safety of the children, those photos also make me uncomfortable from the perspective of someone who is concerned about the rights of children.

    I get the impression that most parents do not ask for consent before posting images of their young children, and that makes me a little nervous. Maybe it’s just me, but I always ask for permission before posting anyone’s picture on my website, and the same applies to children; I can’t help but wonder how many children being blogged about now are going to be upset and uncomfortable in 5, 10, or 15 years. I see that you discussed this briefly above, but I think it’s going to be something which blows up into a major issue in 10 or 20 years when all of the babies being blogged about day by day right now start to grow up.

    I know that as a child of writers, some of the things my parents have written about me have made me deeply uncomfortable, and I wish that those things had not been written/widely distributed. I would feel the same way about images of myself, I suspect.

    Woah, sorry about how long this got. I’d better submit now before it turns into its own post.

  25. There’s lots of great points here on both sides. I’m quite the fence sitter on this subject. I don’t use my own last name on my blog and I use aliases for the kids and never post their pictures. That’s mostly at the request of my husband, though — he is very into internet privacy, and without his preference I probably would have broken down and used the kids’ real names by now.

    As it is I think I post enough personal details on my blog that someone who was really interested in tracking me could find me. They can tell that I live in Ottawa and probably they could pick out my neighbourhood if they read really carefully. I think I am not making myself an easy target for the casual creepy surfer, but a really devoted stalker could find out whatever they wanted, I think.

    I guess I am taking basic precautions, but if I really wanted the kids to be completely protected I’d stay off the internet and stop blogging…and I’d never take them to the beach, either.

    I have to say that having a teenager who can use the internet without constant supervision is a much scarier idea to me. It seems much more risky — the chances of them “meeting” someone on Facebook and developing some sort of intense and potentially dangerous connection to them seems much more likely and possible than some random stalker dude coming to find me and my family. Do you worry about this, XUP? Do you patrol your daughter’s computer use, or do you try to give her some privacy and trust her? Have you had a talk with her about how to protect herself online? I’m looking for any and all advice — you’re my teen mom model!

  26. I do it, but I’ve tried very hard not to give out too many identifying details. Our last name isn’t up there, nor is our town. I only use my husband and mine’s first names and I use aliases for the girls. Still, I’ve wondered about this. On flickr, I recently went and made all my photos viewable to friends/family only and my tags are pretty vague, but I still wonder if this is enough. I know there really is no such thing as “internet privacy.”

    I think any sicko can photograph your child anywhere – the pool, the beach, the park, etc. and use the photo for his own jollies. That’s reality. Is it easier if the photos are online? Possibly . . . but then again it’s more important to me that they understand how to protect themselves for real. Some perv 1,000 miles away masturbating to their photo is completely sick and gross, but it’s not hurting my child in any way because they’ll never know about it.

    My blog is fairy small – only a few dozen readers, most of whom I know either in person or as other “mommy bloggers,” but if it ever really took off I may need to rethink some of this. I think someone above made a great point about “what will these kids think in 10-20 years?” I’ve tried to start writing with that in mind. In other words, giving serious thought to publishing any potentially humiliating stories. This is great food for thought and it’s been interesting reading people’s takes on it.

  27. yeah there are freaks out there but there are just as many walking by you in the street as there are on the net.

    i dont post speedys name. and well… really if you google speedy, youre gonna get a freaking lot of hits.

    it falls in to my mother and her warped thoughts on internet dating. you know cause they are all murderers. but there are no murderers walking the street? at the store? at the gas station?

    if the freaks are going to find you, they will and the odds are more in your favor that thy are someone you know from work or your local farmers market then someone from the net.

    if its pictures? well we live in an age where just about everyone walks around with a cell phone cam and or video. what stops them from just snapping their own?

  28. As a photographer of many years standing let me add some of what I know.
    If you use a photo of someone for comercial use you need a model release.
    If someone was caught in public or it is newsworthy you can use it without permission.
    If the someone is famous and you are making use of their fame back to releases.
    What are you going to do in decades when your daughter is the first female president, or your kid has become famous for curing cancer or whatever and your postings and photos show up to embarrass or limit their progress.
    XUP is worried about her child’s, and every child,s safety and that is actually a very remote threat.
    Your child’s future fame and or embarrassment is also a very remote possibility but when you post anything, it is available to anybody, for any purpose they wish, forever.
    Think about that when you post about yourself, your friends, and your children.

  29. Hey there! Didn’t really pipe in since I don’t have kids of my own and don’t know what I’d do. But still wanted to offer my usual, “Great post!”

  30. Lebowski – The internet is a small world. (PS: were they naked pictures? How does it make you feel to think there are women in foreign countries abusing your photos for their own pleasure?)

    OTC – NO!! Don’t delete your blog and/or flip out. I’m sort of glad you had and have shared the experience of your “toddler without shirt” story. Because it helps to understand how easily these pictures are accessed. I’m sure as long as you keep emphasizing the vomiting and pooping and unearthly noises your kids make, that will help to ward off all but the most stalward weirdo.

    CP – OK!! I didn’t mean to freak you about this. You seem to know what you’re doing. Why no photos of you or the hubby though? Interesting. Speaking of the presidential election, apparantly photos of Obama’s girls were circulating in places they shouldn’t be, too. There are some nasty, nasty people out there spoiling it all for the rest of us.

    Geewits – Good call. Ha ha. I understand, legally, if you give a person life, you are also allowed to take it and/or do with it what you will. I knew there had to be some perks to parenthood.

    Meloukhia – Not at all. Never worry about the length of your comments. Comments are 90% of this blog, I think. Thank you very much for saying this much more eloquently than I did. And I think you’re quite right for bringing the question of children’s rights into this.

    Lynn – Oh yes. We’ve had these discussions many times. One of her friends back in grade 8 met someone online and wanted to go meet them and I had to step in and call the parents. I do trust my daughter not to do anthing foolish. Her computer time is limited and the computer itself is in an open area so she can’t get up to too much. I think your blog is fine. It’s not so much that I worry about stalkers finding anyone’s kids and doing them mischief . It’s more the question of your kids’ photos getting picked up (oh so easily) by pervs who will distribute them who knows where and how your kids will feel about that 15 years from now. I think your husband and you have made a good call. Your blog is totally effective and very interesting without the need for photos.

    Kimberly – “it’s not hurting my child in any way because they’ll never know about it.” Really? I’ve heard other people use this argument. I don’t understand it. First, you don’t know for sure that your kids will never know about it. And even if they don’t, they will know one day that you posted their photos on the internet and they will know that those photos may have been picked up by a sicko. If I was the kid in that situation, I would feel somehow violated. And, I don’t believe it’s legal in many places to photograph other people’s children at the pool or beach. But it’s your call. Are you able to see the search words people use to get to your blog or do you have some way of tracing the people who click on your blog?

    Jobthingy – It’s definitely a decision each parent much make on their own. You seem pretty protective of Speedy in what you write and the occasional photo you post of her.

    Bandobras – YES! Thank you. The odds are, of course in your favour, but why play those odds at all with your kids as the dice? (slightly mixed metaphor anyone?)

    Lesley – Thanks. I was beginning to wonder where my pat on the back of the day was.

  31. >Would it make a difference if statistics showed that 50% of photos of kids posted on the internet ended up in porn sites? As opposed to 5%? Or 1%? When do you decide that the odds are worth the risk?

    Exactly my question too. If you know certainly that a red car a certain model is on the list of desirability for car thieves a grey one, why would you buy a red popular one? You put yourself and anyone who uses your car in harm’s way.

    Cars are statistically more dangerous than air travel. Yet people more commonly fear planes. A person is more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone familiar to them, family or friend, than a stranger. Yet fear factor weight is with strangers.

    How do you evaluate how to measure payoff vs. risk? There’s a pragmatic view in the expression, trust the lord, but lock your door. To a degree it’s a matter of being informed and decision and conscience.

    To a degree, anything can be fetishized. Any image of any person can be used for unintended purposes. Do we become followers of any given religious strain that forbids graven images? When we do, who is controlling? Who is the controlled? Who is responsible?

    It is comparable to the continuum of don’t expose your shoulders to wearing a Niqab to prevent distracting people into sin by allowing them or preventing fodder for their own choices.

    Or does protect the defenseless children of the community village become the trump card, the tipping point for protectionism? We have to respect one another’s cut-off lines and sense of safety while respecting our lines and feeling of freedom. Tricky.

  32. I’ve got mixed feelings. I use nicknames for my kids in my blog but I put up pictures. And I am not an anonymous blogger. The reason I don’t try to hide is I’m not so naive to think that if someone/anyone wanted to know the real me, they could use Google to find out everything they wanted.

    Additionally, both kids have been in the newspaper a few times so their images are already out there.

    The internet is just a new form of access. You can’t control all access to your children. What did people do before digital cameras? Photo labs. Are people so naive that they think that nobody ever saw the pictures that they sent off?
    How about every time you go out in public? Almost everyone has a camera,video camera, or cell phone camera/video. You can’t shield yourself and your family entirely.

  33. Pearl – If you’re undertaking a risk on behalf of another person I would just hope that you’re at least fully informed of all the implications of that risk before going ahead. My concern is that some people maybe aren’t fully aware of the risks involved. A parallel example might be that parents everywhere having been hearing the hype about getting daughters vaccinated against HPV and they all rush out do it in order to protect their girls from cancer. Do they even know the risks of this vaccine? Can they be sure that 20 years down the road won’t cause their daughters some damage – minor or major? If you’re making decisions on behalf of your children, especially decisions that could have long term effects, I’m just saying you should be fully aware of the ramifications.

    Reeky – Yes, there are risks involved in every day living. But someone taking an extra copy of one of your pictures at a photo booth, or your kids appearing in a newspaper is a far cry from having your child’s photo available to millions and millions all over the world to do with what they will AND to re-circulate for years and years. And, several people have used the reasoning that you can’t shield your kids from everything. I don’t get that. Does that mean you just throw caution to the winds and not even bother trying to shield them from anything? So you think, “Oh well, if some perv wants photos of my kid he can take them himself with his cell phone in the park one day, so I guess there’s no reason why I, the father, shouldn’t hand anyone who wants it, my kids’ photos via the internet, too.”??

  34. wow.

    i do have pics up of my kids, and now i’m going to have to check the amount of views on them. i hope it’s not a lot.

    in the beginning, i kept everything much more private than i do now. something for me to think about.

  35. My four/five year old granddauaghter was out jumping on the trampoline and a meter reader, or some such comes up to my daughter and talking about how beautiful the child is and how here hair floats down and enough stuff that my daughter would not let her child out of the house alone for ages.

    Same daughter got us stalked many years ago, before stalking laws and we had to leave our home and family and were given three days to do it while the judge held the dangerous man in jail.

    When I first put my webpage up, I debated using a phone name. But, my artwork was known by my name, so you just risk it. Now, same for my blog and all the other things I do because “writers are supposed to.”

    I just posted something similar to this on my writing blog and titled it, “If you post it, they will steal it.” Because “they” will find your address, your email, your social security number if they really want to. You do the best you can, and I would probably not post a young child’s picture myself because I have run into too many pedophiles, but if someone can, they will. Including using your kids picture from the yearbook or whatever.

    One more story (sorry) My mother is OC and part of it was that I was raised that you “tell your mother everything.” “You do not keep anything to yourself” Unfortunately, I think do to this, I blurt stuff out and now I write it on my blog. My grand nephew has never mentioned he read that he is a “pasty white kid” acting like a brother in the hood. But, if he does, I hope he knows it’s true.

  36. I totally agree with you XUP. That’s why my nieces and nephews are only my little angels and angelas on the blog. My sisters have requested no names, and definitely no pics…

  37. Leah – Well, that’s all I was going for – for people to think about what they’re doing when they hand their kids’ images over to the whole wide web world.

    SaVanVleck – Like I’ve said before, stealing a photo from a yearbook or newspaper is not at all the same thing as getting it off the internet. The audiences for each can’t even be compared, neither can the process for copying a photo. Thanks for your perspective.

    Noha – Wise sisters.

  38. To clarify, I don’t post pictures of other people’s children (or adults for that matter) without permission. I’m not sure where you got from what I wrote that I did that.

    And yes, I do track searches and hits that bring people to my blog and the most provocative thing so far has been “pee on an Aquadoodle.”

  39. more than anything you always give me mind/brain candy, it’s why i keep coming back. i checked my photos and there do not seem to be any unusual views on certain photos of certain people.

    i’m trying to catch up here, i’ve missed so many of your posts dangit!