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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