Sharing Family Photos Online: Think Twice


Feb 10, 2016


Point and click – it used to be a two-step process. Now, taking photos requires three steps: point, click, and share. It’s become second nature to document our lives and the lives of those around us. But when it comes to documenting every moment of your children’s lives in social media photo-journals, there are some compelling reasons to think twice.


Faking It

Jennifer Borget has two very cute kids. We don’t know Jennifer; we’ve never met her or her kids. But we know they are cute because someone took the photos Jennifer posted to her blog and added them to an image of Scandal characters Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant to depict what the couple’s kids would look like. Yep, someone took photos of real children and added them to a photo of a fake couple to see what the fake couple’s imaginary children would look like. (Someone was very bored.) Jennifer said she copyrights her photos, adds a watermark and disables right clicks to prevent people from saving her kids’ images, but they were still taken. Unless you’re interested in your child being the latest hot thing on fan-fic websites, don’t give the overzealous, under-employed fans any fodder.

Photography or “Art”?

In his 2014 exhibition New Portraits in New York City, Richard Prince displayed portraits (on sale for around $90,000 each): captioned photographs from strangers’ Instagram accounts, taken via screengrab without permission. Most of the portraits sold, and Prince made a pretty penny. Sure, he was trying to make a point about our image-obsessed society, so you may think it’s all in the name of valuable artistic commentary. But you probably won’t feel that way if it’s your kid’s face for sale.

Accidental Modelling Careers

In 2012, Indonesian blogger Leonny got a message from a friend, who had spotted two familiar faces in a Malaysian newspaper. The faces belonged to Leonny’s two children, who had been Photoshopped out of a photo she had taken during a recent holiday and posted into a corporate advertisement. Across the world from her is Danielle, an American blogger who also received a message from a friend. Her friend, living in Prague, found a life-size photo of Danielle, her husband, and their kids in the window of a local grocery store. The lesson to be learned here? If you think your family is super gorgeous, it’s very possible an advertiser may think the same.

“Adopting” a Virtual Baby

This one is beyond creepy: if you search for the hashtags #babyrp, #openrp or #kidrp on Instagram, you’ll come across a virtual world where people role play with photos of strangers’ babies. Accounts like @adoptionrp let users “adopt” babies and pretend to be their parents. Users interact with these photos — of real, live babies from posts on other’s social media accounts — by creating fake names and personalities for the babies in them. This isn’t limited to Instagram; a blogger in Colorado found photos of her baby on a woman’s MySpace profile after the woman faked a pregnancy and needed a baby photo to keep up the digital charade.


The safest way to ensure your kids’ photos aren’t misused – and their privacy maintained – is not to share any photos of them online. But even then, friends and family may thoughtlessly snap and share. So if you do decide to share your kids’ photos online, here’s how you can minimize the risk that the pictures will be used without your knowledge:

Make your social media accounts VIP-only.
While the most obvious thing to do is make all of them private, go deeper into the settings. Make sure only people on your friend list can see what you post. While you’re at it, cull your friend list ruthlessly. The woman who used to live in your building, the guy you haven’t spoken to in 20 years, the couple you hit it off with at a party? If they aren’t going to be a very regular part of your child’s life, they don’t need to see his photos.

Make your social media passwords hacker-proof.
Make them so complicated that even you have a trouble remembering them. ilove[babyname] or [spousename]ismylove are terrible passwords, and adding significant dates like birthdates or anniversaries don’t make them any better. This is the time to use that guilty pleasure you’re embarrassed to tell anyone about. (BeL!3bEr4eVa!)

Keep your kids out of your profile photos. Your account may be as strong as Fort Knox, but your profile photo is on display for the world to see. It’s not just social media this time. Most people don’t realise their WhatsApp profile photo is visible to anyone with access to that phone number, so keep those profile photos child-free.

Share photos via email, rather than social media.
It may be more effort than a quick share on Facebook, and you may not be able to count the Likes, but it limits who can see your family’s private moments. And tell your family and friends (even those you trust) explicitly that you don’t want photos of your child online.

Post only low-resolution photos.
This limits someone’s ability to print your photos and use them for anything other than wearing in a locket. It’s a quick and easy thing to do: Websites like resize.it let you resize any photo for free.


Written By The Swaddle Team


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