• Wed, Jan 25 2012

Please Remove My Child’s Picture From Your Mommy Blog

On this website, I share plenty of details about my daughter. In my writing, I tend to use personal anecdotes, so that would normally include my offspring. I’ve told you all that her name is Brenna, that she’ll be turning four soon and that she has a proclivity for superheros. Oh, and every once in a while she says super-cute things like, “You want a piece of me?” when she’s play-fighting with my husband. One thing I’ve never shared with the wonderful readers of Mommyish? Her picture.

I’m not sure why sharing my daughter’s image feels like crossing a line for me. I post her picture on Facebook, though I’m pretty selective in who I actually allow to be my “friend.” I don’t have a problem with other people sharing their children’s pictures. I wouldn’t dare assume to say what’s best for anyone else’s kids. But sharing your child’s image feels like a personal choice, and it’s one that I’m not completely comfortable with.

So imagine my surprise to find out that Brenna’s picture is out there in cyberspace, easy enough for the whole world to see. Ok, you would have to really be looking for it, but still.

One of the moms from daycare was emailing me about a carpooling issue. On the signature of her email, she had a personal blog link. I didn’t think much of it until I started to see her blog’s logo and tagline on invitations to parties and her daughter’s book bag. (I’m still confused as to why it’s hanging on that big like a luggage tag.) After a while, I realized that she must take it pretty seriously and I decided to stop over and see it.

Right there on one of the most recent posts was a picture of my daughter and her’s from a recent birthday party. The girls both looked adorable and happy, but I wasn’t so comfortable. A quick search of my daughter’s name showed that Brenna was featured in numerous posts, smiling right along side her friend. Pictures from a trip we took to the zoo or the girls first day of school, they were all right there on another woman’s website.

The more I searched the site, the more upset I got. This wasn’t a “let the grandparents know how life’s going” type of mommy blog. This was a full-blown business venture, complete with Etsy gift shop and in the BlogHer Network. My daughter’s pictures were featured in craft tutorials that were then shared on other sites. Except I had never been approached or notified that my little girl’s pictures were being used.

Some may say I’m over-reacting and maybe I am. But I believe that a parent has a right to decide when and how they will share pictures of their children. Once those kids grow up, they’ll be able to choose for themselves just how much they want to share online.

I wish I could tell you that I confronted this mommy blogger and politely requested that she remove Brenna’s pictures from her site. I haven’t had the nerve to do it yet. I don’t want to be petty or argumentative, especially with the mom of my daughter’s closest friend. But at the same time, I won’t be telling you the names of this women’s children. I don’t think it’s my place to share that with you. Yet, she had no problem putting up pictures of every child in our daycare and every kid in her daughter’s class. That’s potentially dozens of parents who don’t realize that someone else is sharing pictures of their kids. And I think that’s an issue!

So, before I go all Mama Bear, I’m going to ask you guys. Am I making a big deal out of nothing here? Do I have a right to be angry that my daughter’s picture is teaching mothers everywhere how to make flannel blankies on a how-to blog somewhere out there? What would you do if you found pictures of your child on the internet without your permission?

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  • sam

    I think you’re definitely overreacting. Just call/email/text/ or have a face-to-face chat with said mom. Tell her that you’d rather her not post pictures of your precious darling because of online predators that are going to steal the picture and do naughty things with it and/or xyz reason. I understand wanting to made aware of that she’s posting pictures of your daughter but to be angry about it is stupid.

  • sam

    I think you have every right to be mad. Doesn’t the TV/Radio industry have some sort of unspoken rule that unless a person mentions their family no one else, no matter their connection, can mention them? I could justify the action on facebook but a business promoting blog…. no. I would confront her and just tell her that you don’t feel comfortable her posting your daughter’s face all over the internet for people to see. She should respect your decision, and she should also look at herself to see if she has offended anyone else.

  • B

    Your not overreacting at all. The person who commented above me is! haha, talk about reading to much into a post! No this is a privacy issue. That other mommyblogger made an internet faux pas and needs to be corrected. You shouldn’t post pictures of other people or other people’s children without permission. Simple as that.

  • Michelle

    I can understand feeling upset over the fact that she has posted pictures of your child without your consent. It just seems odd (almost invasive) for someone to blog so openly about a child’s name along with their picture, especially if it isn’t about their own. From her perspective though, it probably never crossed her mind as being offensive. I would have a chat with her one day and say that you would like for your daughter to not be on the blog anymore. Nothing to get angry over, just explain that you aren’t comfortable with it.

  • Cee

    It is a bit of an overreaction. She is not selling your child, nor is she having her wave signs for her business. Here is the thing, we live in a very technological world. We LOVE to take pics of our kids doing things and more often than not, they are doing things with their friends. Sometimes they just happen to be in a room full of children who will comprise the background of the pictures/video a parent is taking.

    When people post these pictures, they don’t think about a weirdo wanking off to their child, their child’s friend or random background child number 5, also they don’t think you are some celebrity that has all these privacy issues. Lastly, once something is on the internet, including YOUR pictures that YOU put up, it is public. No matter how many privacy barriers you put on your facebook or blogs, once it goes up, it can probably be found somewhere else whether for good or bad. Any friend on your facebook account can just copy and paste your pictures to their computer. Hopefully that doesn’t make you uber paranoid, it is just the way the internet works.

    If you don’t want your child around the web. Sorry, too late. But, for the future, say if you have another child or something, if you don’t want her on the internet, stalk everyone with a camera near said child and make sure that even their shoe is not on the picture and don’t post pictures yourself either.

    With everyone owning cameras, facebooks, blogging, tumbling and tweeting..nothing is really going to be private anymore.

    • NotThumper

      I have to agree. Anything posted online is out there forever. I can understand being surprised and a little upset but if you are asking readers if you are overreacting then I think somewhere inside you think you might be.

      If you are really that upset then why haven’t you spoken to the mommyblogger yet? You say she is the mother of your daughter’s closest friend I would think you’d be comfortable talking to her.

  • Liz

    No WAY are you overreacting! It is an invasion of privacy, and I don’t blame you one bit for being angry. B is not her child, therefore she does not have the right to ASSUME you’re ok with B’s image being made public.

    And that’s the problem in a nutshell, the assumption on this woman’s part that her decisions and what SHE thinks is fine and dandy for HER kids naturally spills over to absolutely everyone else and THEIR kids. It’s like, “Thanks for making my decisions for me!”

    So, I think it’s perfectly fine to have a talk with her and ask her to remove all mention of your daughter (or have her refer to her as My daughter’s friend B” only) and remove or blur out images of B.

    If she’s a savvy blogger, this will be a piece of cake for her.

  • Jennifer Perlmutter

    You are not over reacting. I hope you find the courage to approach this friend and ask her why she didn’t think it was important to ask your permission. The feeling of this kind of breach of privacy is not good. The anger is a coming from feeling betrayed. It happened to me recently. In business it’s called copyright infringement and is dearly protected. Your situation is between friends and touches the border of business because she may be profiting from the photos indirectly. Thanks for sharing this story.

  • Liz

    I don’t think you’re overreacting. Corporations and media have to have signed consent forms to use someone else’s image, so legally, you have every right to ask her to take them down, or blur her out, or whatever she has to do so that images of your daughter don’t appear on the Internet.

    I think the bigger problem is if she’s also disclosing your daughter’s name. Which makes her searchable on the Internet and can create an invasion of privacy. If she was just posting pics of her daughter with yours, but not using your daughter’s name at all, then it’s not as much of an issue, though you still have the right to ask her to take it down if it makes you uncomfortable.

    I think there’s a way to make your request without coming off as accusatory or rude. Just simply say “hey, LOVE your site, but just wondering if you could do me a huge favor and not post any pictures of my daughter? Call me paranoid, but I purposefully don’t put pics of her online for a reason. Would really appreciate it if you didn’t either.”

    See? Easy peasy. ;)

  • Becki

    I don’t think you’re overreacting at all and you should absolutely ask for your daughter’s pictures to be removed from the blog if that’s what you wish. She has to respect your privacy.

  • Becky

    I’m not sure if the law is different in the states but in Canada parental agreement forms have to be signed whenever a business of any size is using photos of a child under age 18…and anyone who works in media up here knows that in general, forms should also be obtained whenever someone’s face is photographed to completely safeguard against removal requests or even lawsuits. This becomes especially true when the photos were taken in a private context where you had a resonable expectation of privacy for your daughter (things become less clear in public venues like shopping malls).

    In this case I think that you have every right to ask the mom to remove the photos especially considering that she really should have asked you in the first place. Will it be inconvenient for her? Yes. Should she have checked before using them though? Yes. Do you have to get angry with her knowing that she didn’t intend to upset you? Nope.

  • Lissie

    You’re absolutely NOT overreacting. I am a mommy blogger and I do occasionally share pictures of my own children, but I would never dream of putting others’ pictures there without permission.

    I am also a teacher. In our ENTIRE urban school district, a student’s photo cannot be put on a school website or publication without a signed waiver from the parent. It is a security concern if this woman is posting pictures of the children in the daycare without the parents’ knowledge.

  • Mindy

    I don’t think you’re overreacting at all. i think it is really inappropriate for her to be posting pictures of other people’s kids all over her blog without permission. I think you should talk to her ASAP though. I post photos of my kids on my facebook page, but I would never post a photo of anyone else’s kid without permission and I would be really pissed if I found their photos all over someone else’s blog, especially if it was as public as it sounds like this one is.

  • Amanda

    You need to tell her to remove them ASAP. I don’t think it’s an overreaction. I’ve read stories about kids’ photos stolen online and used for overseas adoption agency pics. Obviously no one will be able to adopt your child, but they may be led to thinking that they can. I find that incredibly creepy.

  • Jessica

    Um, clearly this is an overreaction.

    What is it you’re afraid people are going to do with a picture of your child – even if that means they have *gasp* you’re child’s first name?

    Do you not take your child out in public?

  • Fabel

    She definitely should have asked you first, but this is sort of getting to be the new “normal”. Everyone has a camera and nearly everyone has some kind of internet presence, whether it’s a blog, a Facebook page, whatever. Companies and schools have websites that will usually display pictures of their employees, clubs and other venues often have somebody taking pictures of the patrons to later be put on a website for promotion. Some people are totally comfortable with all of this, so comfortable that it wouldn’t even occur to them to ask permission to post some innocent pictures on a blog– but if you feel invaded, definitely say something to her!

  • Katherine

    I guess I just don’t understand people’s aversion to having your child’s picture on the internet. What exactly do you think is going to happen? How many pictures of your friend’s children have you seen on the internet? Has anything bad happened to them? Call *me* paranoid, but not posting pictures of your child makes it seem like you have something to hide. But that’s just my opinion. My life is an open book and I am not ashamed of it

  • Kristen

    You seem to be more upset because this blog is a business for the other mother, and she’s making money off of it. If it were a small, personal blog with only 20 or so readers, would you be just as uncomfortable?
    .

    • Lindsay Cross

      You know, I still think I would. It’s not that I think some creep is going to be glaring at pictures of my precious little one. I don’t think she’s in danger because her picture is on the internet.

      It’s just… privacy. I don’t post pictures of her because I think that she should get to make that choice when she’s older. My daughter should get to decide when, where and how she shares her picture. The fact that someone else took that choice away from her really bothers me. It just feels like an invasion of privacy.

  • Lindsay Cross

    I really appreciate everyone’s comments. I don’t think there’s a single right or wrong answer here. Facebook and blogging are obviously so popular that sharing everything is becoming the norm.

    I would like t clarify that my concern isn’t so much with some creepy person using a picture of my daughter for…. anything. (Let’s not think about it, right.) More than anything, I just feel like it’s a privacy issue. I feel like a parent should be able to decide if their child’s picture is going to be shared online.

  • Family Wilds

    We post pics of our daughter on our blog, but completely understand others don’t want pics of their kids online. We actually go out of our way to not post pics of other people’s kids on our page. If we do want to post pics of other kids, we ask first. In fact, I just sent an email 30-minutes ago to 2 moms asking if I could include pics of their kids (from a specific play activity) on our blog. I made sure to write more than once that we would not be offended in the least if they declined. We think it’s important for people to be aware that it could be a big issue for others. This is a really good post.

  • Rachel

    It doesn’t matter if you are over reacting. You cannot post pics of a recognizable person without a model release, esp if it is a business. There is one pic of my son online, and I didn’t post it, and I don’t like it being there.

  • Stephen

    You are not over-reacting at all. Its pure manners to ask to publish a picture of somebody. All those people saying you have something to hide… seriously grow up. She is uncomfortable with her daughters pictures being there without her permission. Regardless if people think you are making mountains out of mole hills or not, she is your child and it is YOUR choice. A politely worded email should be more than enough and any normal parent will understand.

  • Lori B.

    I don’t think you have overreacted yet. I think it should be the parent’s choice to decide how and when their child’s photo is posted online. I don’t recommend getting all mama bear on this woman over this. Like other readers have alreay said, let her know that it makes you uncomfortable to see pictures of your daughter on her blog. You could even soften the message by telling her how great her blog is or ask her to ask you in the future before including pictures of Brenna. If she is a reasonable person, she will understand. Good luck!

  • emsubo

    I don’t think you’re overreacting–it’s perfectly reasonable (not to say that it won’t be an uncomfortable discussion, though) to tell her that you’re not comfortable having your daughter’s photo and full first name on her site, and to ask her to remove/crop the photos, refer to her by the first initial, etc. Also, if any of the photos have been taken at the preschool or on school field trips, etc., it’s possible that it could open up the school to liability issues. As other posters have pointed out, businesses/schools have much stricter policies about posting photos of students without releases. Even if this mom isn’t acting on behalf of the school when she posts to her personal blog/site, photo ops at the school or at school-sponsored activities are probably not okay to use if they include other children. You may need to consider bringing this to the attention of the preschool director.

  • Abby

    You are in no way overreacting. This is your daughter; maybe nothing will be done with the photos, but it still doesn’t give some other lady the right to post up pictures of her without your knowledge. Had she asked you prior, and you had a chance to check out the blog and say yes or no, that would be different. I would just politely ask the mother to remove your daughter’s pictures, and make certain that she lets the other daycare parents know as well, so that they can make a decision for their families.

  • Andrea @ The Penny-Roach’s

    I think you have every right to ask her (nicely of course) to take them down. You are her mom, and it’s your right as a parent to put pictures or not put pictures of your kids up on the internet for the world to see.

    I always ask other parents before posting pics of their kids. I’ve never had a parent say no, but I always ask out of respect. And she might not realize that it’s an issue, so just tell her how you feel. I’m sure she’ll understand once you explain it to her.

    Good luck!

  • Meg

    I run a blog for my child care facility and make it explicitly clear that if a picture of your child is put up and you don’t want it there, there are no hard feelings about that– if I’m printing promotional material, I notify parents ahead of time. It’s sort of the norm now for our parents, and I’ve never had the problem, but several of them have mentioned to me that they are happy to know that they have a say in it, and I don’t “friend” anyone on our Facebook page who isn’t directly related to Camp or Camp families.

  • Mistie

    I think this is an important discussion to have. People need to respect other people’s privacy, and it seems like you are trying to protect your child’s privacy–both in your own internet usage and in others’. I think that’s a good thing. Hell, I asked my sister if it was ok before I posted pictures of her daughter, my niece, on my facebook. She asked me when I had my daughter. I think it’s courteous, and it needs to become the common one as well.

  • Cynthia

    Speaking as a photographer, what she did is illegal. You can not publish photos of someone w/out their consent, usually in writing. With minors, obviously, it would be the parent’s consent. Putting it on the web is considered publishing under the law.

    I’m not one for random fluffy lawsuits, but if she gives you any attitude at all about removing them, please be aware the law is on your side.

  • LG

    It’s a no-brainer for me. She’s your daughter. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, she should take them down.

  • Amanda

    I don’t really understand why people consider this to be an overreaction. I would probably have a massive-coronary style fit over this – but that’s just me. If someone asked me for my permission first, I’d probably be okay with it. But it seems kind of shady that this lady is using your child’s image for profit and publicity without at least NOTIFYING you of the blogs existence. Very odd. If this woman is even half-way intelligent, I’d question her integrity.

  • Kati

    I certainly don’t think you are overreacting. No one should ever publish a photo of a child without first obtaining the parent(s)’ approval. (The exception being a picture of a crowd.) I won’t even post a photo of someone else’s child on my Facebook page, which is only viewable to my friends, without their approval. It’s a matter of common courtesy.

    In the case of this mom’s blog, if she earns income from the blog via paid advertisements, using your daughter’s photos without your express permission is illegal. Businesses will only pay to advertise on blogs that attract large numbers of readers. Whether these readers visit her blog for her informative content such as craft tutorials, in some of which she used your daughters photos; or because they enjoy her writing about parenting and other facets of every day life, which she illustrates with photos of her children and their friends, the truth is, she is earning income from photos of your daughter. And even if she doesn’t sell advertisements, but makes her money through her Etsy sales, the contents of her blog serve as an advertisement for her Etsy shop, which still means that she is earning income from your daughter’s photos.

    That being said, I’m sure she never thought in terms of that when she posted the pictures. And like so many people in this day and age, gave no thought to the fact that other people might not like to have their or their children’s photos published on the internet. So I agree with the other commentors(?) who have advised you not to go all mama-bearish with her. I can understand how it would be difficult for you to bring this up with her, because, as a parent, I always wanted to avoid upsetting the mothers of my children’s friends. But as hard as this may be for you to do, I do think you need to let her know how you feel. Good luck!

  • Emily

    This is pretty different but somewhat of a similar issue. In 2007, when my daughter was 16 and in the 11th grade, another girl in her grade made a fake Myspace page for my daughter, with a picture that someone took of my daughter from a camera phone that she didn’t even know was taken. My daughter and I talked to some people at the school about it, and they basically told us that they couldn’t do anything about it. The only reason it eventually got taken down was because we sent her a message saying the police would be contacted if it stayed up. Although I’m sure they couldn’t have done anything about it. But its just creepy what people will do with pictures you might not even know were taken!

  • Dawn

    I’d knock the bitch out, Lindsay. But that’s just me. Its one thing to have a printed photo on a bulletin board or something of that nature, but using her picture without your consent, or knowledge even, all over her website is absolute bullshit. My husband and I are very careful with photos of our own sons with certain people due to issues with his stalker ex-wife. I saw on a friend’s facebook page, they had posted a picture of my kids on their wall, for her to plainly see, and I nearly committed a felonious assault, then deleted and blocked them and havent spoken since. You do whatever you need to do to protect your kids.

  • K

    I’m not even a parent and I’m angry. A close relative of mine works in the district attorney’s office of my home county, and they have said that people should not not NOT be posting photos of their children ANYWHERE online. Sadly, pedophiles are much, more more prominent than most of us can probably imagine, and it doesn’t take a naked toddler for them to be allured — many of them are turned on by much more benign images than that. Parents, please please stop using the Internet as a place to advertise how special your kids are. You’re endangering them, no matter how innocent you think an image seems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kalliedesruisseaux Kallie Desruisseaux

    I just came from Burning Man (check it out – awesomeness) and they have a strict “permission only” photo policy. Professional photographers have to be tagged and are reported for taking pictures without asking first (except of a large crowd) and personal photographers are also held to the standard. Privacy is important in a place where there is self expression. So why isn’t this standard main stream? That is my least favorite part of facebook; the posting of my photos without permission, and the ease at which I can do the same to other people without thinking of it. On a blog, especially a commercial one, it should be second nature to ask permission first! I would not hesitate to bring it up to your friend, who might never have thought of the issue before. It is to her benefit as well as your own; could save her a lot of trouble in the future!

  • Vikky

    NOT Overreacting:

    1–it’s illegal for her to use photos of your child without written permission on her for-profit blog.

    2–you need to tell the daycare, ASAP. If you don’t, and one of the other parents decide to sue, you could also be in trouble.

    3–you need to contact the other websites that have picked up these posts and let them know that no permission to use you daughter’s image has been granted.

    My husband’s a photographer and consent forms are SERIOUS.

    Bottom line, models get paid. She’s using these kids as models without paying or even notifying their parents.
    This is a for-profit blog, not somebody’s Facebook page. The law is very clear when there’s money involved.

  • Wendy Walton

    Both of my children have had their own blogs for years (and yes, I did put privacy guards on the domain names.) I think it’s a matter for parents to decide according to how they choose to parent and of course, the child. My kids and I have a very open flow of communication, and I have taught them to question adults (even those in uniform) and statistically that makes them very poor choices for pedophiles and kidnappers.

    I do think you should discuss this with the other mom since it bothers you. Both of you are writers, you could bring it up as a professional topic, like “I’ve been thinking about posting pictures of (some person) for a post but I don’t have a model release signed.” and go from there.

  • TP

    i would talk to her and see if she will remove them first. that doesn’t always work though. I just found many pictures of my children on my mothers facebook page and she refuses to take them down despite many asking her nicely over the years not to post. new ones appear whenever we go to see her which isn’t often thankfully. I am at a loss over what to do. I don’t give her pictures, she is blocked from my page and my husbands, and we see her maybe 2 or 3 times a year. she never asks or shows them to me first – I find out by word of mouth. if she’s like my mom and wont remove them, i’d limit the daughter’s interaction with said mother and host playdates at my house and they could see eachother in school