Internet Privacy: Sharing Photos Online

A further aspect of the internet privacy debate is the question of whether it is OK to share photographs of our children online. Since I’ve already done it here, my view probably won’t come as a surprise. I honestly don’t see a major problem with it as long as the photos are of an appropriate type.

When I expressed this sentiment to another mother-to-be before Thomas was born, she was horrified. “But what about paedophiles?” she exclaimed. “They could be LOOKING at your child.

Erm, really?

A statement like that to me, shows a gross misunderstanding of the evil nature of the child sex industry and smacks of the tabloid hysteria of a “paedo on every corner”. The sorts of pictures that child sex offenders look at are not innocent pictures of our children in cute outfits, sleeping in their prams or with food smeared over their faces. These kind of pictures hold no interest for these people. Even if a convicted sex offender should stumble across a picture of my baby online, what harm will come from it? I’ll never know if my child’s face pops up in their twisted imagination and after all, people walking along the street see my child’s face. I cannot keep his image hidden from the world.

I don’t really believe, either, that pictures placed online at this stage make my child vulnerable to target from sex offenders who wish to do more than just look at images. So long as we abide by common sense safety rules, such as not posting addresses or specific whereabouts online, and we begin teaching from an early age about the dangers of talking to, meeting or following people you do not know both in real life and online, then the fact that some innocent holiday snaps are shared online does nothing more to raise the risk of being targeted than simply being seen playing in the local park. Less, probably, since it’s relatively easy to follow a child home from the park and learn more about their daily routine, but sussing out properly protected information online takes more effort. Opportunity and ease is a big part of all these kinds of offences. I honestly believe that keeping our children safe starts with being aware ourselves, and making our children aware, of what is safe and what is ok, not with creating hysteria and panic or being overly restrictive.

I do worry to a certain extent that pictures I post could be used by others in a less damaging but still inappropriate way. I have heard of cases where people have stumbled across fictional blogs illustrated with pictures of their child stolen from their own non-fictional blogs. But my unease is limited. Once again, what harm is there really to be done? It’s not very likely that someone would recognise my child from the fictional blog and then base their opinion of my child on what they had read – it would quite quickly become apparent that they weren’t the same person if they actually got to know us. And come on, celebrities aside, when is the last time you saw a random stranger on the street and thought “Oh, I’m sure I saw a photo of that person online last week.” It simply doesn’t happen very often!

I’m also not concerned about my copyright being infringed, as most of the snaps I share will likely be just that – snaps rather than artistic photos that take major skill to produce and could be sold or used to win competitions. People who get uptight about the “Copyright” of their very average holiday snaps amuse me to a certain extent. Even if a large company elected to “steal” your photo to use in an advertising campaign without permission (which is actually very unlikely) it doesn’t mean they would actually have paid for it had you offered it to them for a fee. So you wouldn’t really be losing anything, and might actually gain yourself some money in a publicity uproar if such an unlikely thing were to happen!

I realise that my opinions won’t be shared by everyone, and that is fine. We each have to make our own decisions, as with sharing anything at all online. It can hardly be labelled “wrong” to choose NOT to share anything you don’t want to online. But I don’t think my decision is wrong either. I’ve thought it through thoroughly and made an informed choice.

Mwah

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