STFU Parents: In Which I Ponder If Privacy On Facebook Even Exists

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column about children and nudity on social media, and I think most of the people who read it agreed with it. After all, it’d be dumb to say, “What’s the problem with posting a picture of my toddler’s genitals on the internet? My son’s penis is no more crude than a picture of a woman in a low-cut shirt!” No, if you’re a parent and you say that, you qualify as needing a few lessons in the importance of privacy.

As several people rightly pointed out, responsible adults teach children that certain things (like parts of their bodies) are private, so what kind of message are we sending if we then post pictures of their naked asses on the internet?

For some, this is Parenting 101. But for others, the lines get blurred once you scrap the nudity and move into other areas of privacy. One such debate happening over on the STFUP Facebook page surrounds the story of the teacher who posted a picture of her students with duct tape over their mouths on Facebook. First, there’s a question about whether the duct tape is even relevant to the discussion. Certainly it’s what prompted the concern from parents and members of the school board, but would it be different, one reader asked, if she’d posted a picture of her students innocently eating cake? I think that it would, because it was the perception of the photograph that raised her bosses’ eyebrows (and the eyebrows of parents whose children attend the school).

That said, ultimately it doesn’t really matter what the kids were doing, because the main issue that’s being debated pertains to privacy. If a school board doesn’t have a strict policy regarding teachers posting images of their students on Facebook, does that make it okay for the teacher to do so? I happen to think it’s common sense not to post pictures of one’s students online without getting parental consent first, but some of the people participating in the debate disagreed with me. Even more interesting, some people mocked the idea that the teacher was at fault at all. “Who cares?!” they said. “It’s just a picture!”

That got me thinking: Does privacy exist on Facebook anymore? Are parents telling their kids to be conscientious and protective over their bodies, cell phones, Facebook pages, and, of course, when talking to strangers (both on and offline), but then flagrantly rejecting those rules themselves? And does age range matter?

For instance, I’m guessing there are some parents who feel fine about posting a nude picture of their baby online, but maybe not their toddler, and definitely not their pre-teen. There are “scales” of acceptability, and everyone makes up the rules as they go along. But what happens when someone calls out another parent who doesn’t abide by the same code of conduct? Check out the following exchange regarding a birthday party invitation that was posted on Facebook:

 STFU Parents

Yikes. My takeaway is this: Maria butted into a conversation that she was not a part of, which is automatically going to make a person defensive. Even more damning, she criticized Crystal’s parenting, which is the kiss of death whether you’re at a Gymboree class or on Facebook. However, she butted in after weighing her options and determining that a child’s hypothetical safety was more important than being liked by strangers. So, I can respect that.

She went out on a limb and tried to help out a fellow mother, coming purely from a place of concern. I can understand why Crystal was mildly (and then not-so-mildly) offended, but what I can’t understand is Crystal’s flippant attitude. She basically mocks Maria not for butting in, but for having the concerns that she has. There is no question in my mind that I’m on Maria’s side here, and I think Crystal is being reckless by inviting the whole world (so to speak) to her daughter’s birthday party, which is taking place at her home along with other children.

And yet despite this, I’m guessing there are more people out there who are on Crystal’s side than on Maria’s. Many people think that being rude is “worse” than being cautious, and besides, who’s cautious? Lame people, that’s who!

People who are – as Crystal says – paranoid and afraid. But on the flip side, I receive submissions like this a lot, too, that exhibit extreme fear and paranoia on the part of parents in real life settings as opposed to online settings. Have some parents simply resigned themselves to thinking that privacy concerns are “uptight” if those concerns are inconvenient to them?

Crystal didn’t want to have to locate everyone’s email address or phone number. She didn’t want to send a group text or mail out more physical invitations. She took the laziest path available to her to invite her friends to the party, and that is why she thinks her actions are acceptable. It has nothing to do with privacy, and everything to do with convenience. At least, that’s my opinion.

But like I said, maybe privacy doesn’t exist on Facebook anymore, and I’m the one who needs to get with the times. Maybe we live our lives online, in public, and that’s just the way it is. Maybe Maria should’ve kept her comments to herself and gone about her day.

What do you guys think?

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  • Lawcat

    I think it’s tacky to invite someone to a gift giving occasion on Facebook.

    Besides her lack of tact, I learn towards Crystal. I get what Maria is saying, but she could have done it in a better way. She could have let their mutual friend know and had her tell Crystal it was public. Heck, I was with Maria up until she said “thats a huge gamble.” Thats the moment she went from helpful stranger to the internet equivalent of a neighborhood busybody. Mind your own business, Maria! If Crystal wanted you to further expound on the dangers of society she’d have asked you. Leave. It. Be.

    • Basketcase

      While I agree its a bit tacky to do the Facebook invite thing, there is a safer way to do it: Create an event and have it visible only to invited guests, and untick the “guests can invite friends” box. Simple.

      I definitely consider both my privacy and my security when on Facebook, and will be continuing this when our little on arrives in a couple of months. When I create events on Facebook I dont even put my address on the event info, instead telling people to PM me if they haven’t been to our place before.

    • Krista Westervelt

      I do the same thing. No address on the event listing. I ask people to PM or call for directions.

    • LAwcat

      Oh yea, Events are safer. Or groups. We have a fb group for our group of friends. Adult birthdays or casual gettogethers I think are ok to do an invite for. We usually dont give gifts, just buy drinks or food. But you’re kind of a schmuck if you show up to a 6 year olds birthday sans gift. It’s a compelled gift giving situation like a wedding. I mean, who takes a pic of the invite and tags people in it?! That’s like saying, I haven’t talked to you in years and don’t want to spend the postage to properly invite you like I did everyone else, but buy my kid the obligatory gift.

      But, I do stupid things sometimes. And I’d like it to be brought to my attention…but there’s no need to beat a dead horse, especially with a stranger who has no intention of caring about your soapbo issues.

    • Tammy Thomas

      Even events can be pretty dangerous, it;s so easy for people to share it and then it goes viral. That’s why PM invites or phone is the best.

    • AP

      I always make events private-invite only. My husband made an event for my birthday, and forgot to adjust this privacy setting. I turned on my phone after a long day of flying, and found my socially awkward colleague had found the event, invited himself, and invited a whole bunch of other people who I hadn’t invited. I felt so bad about it!

    • Leigha7

      Ugh. Inviting yourself to something is rude, but potentially forgivable. Inviting OTHER people to someone else’s event, especially one you weren’t even invited to, is downright insane.

    • goofyjj

      Crystal might very well be a cop and just letting her know. There’s a lot of police officers on FB, etc., that look for kids that give too much information and “follow” those “friends” to catch the pedophiles.

      Also, this woman is giving out a list to potential burglars – letting them know who will be at the party, not at home, the date, and for approximately how long.

    • Lawcat

      She’s not “giving out a list”…she tagged people who may or may not show up. If those people are concerned, don’t publicly say you’ll be there or untag yourself.

      I don’t think she’s a cop as an officer wouldnt sit there and make snarky remarks after their advice has been rebuffed. Police officers tend to be a little more professional than that.

  • Donna Martin

    I’m not thinking on a creepy level, Someone could steal that child’s identity with that information. And yes, it’s super lazy and tacky to invite people to the party by holding up the invitation and taking a photo of it.

  • Krista Westervelt

    “I’m not the stranger butting into someone’s business.”

    Um, that’s the point the “stranger” was trying to make. You wouldn’t have “strangers” butting into your business if you had kept this private. Sheesh.

  • Cris

    Hey, she posted her stuff and other people can see it, and respond to it. The internet doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and for every Maria there’s a scammer or pedo who won’t give Crystal a warning. If something happened to her kid, she’d be mad FB didn’t keep her stuff more private. Crystal’s logic is lazy/non-existent, but it seems like the overshare is only going to keep getting worse.

    • Xyzzy

      Well, when it comes to pedos, Crystal would statistically be better off worrying about her relatives, neighbors or friends, not random people online. (I’m confused about the scammer part of your comment; would they threaten her with the info, or…?)

    • Jessi Bencloski

      More likely, a “scammer” would use the child’s name and address to open up bogus accounts of some sort.

  • Amy Williams

    I had posted a picture of my dog on a mother-to-mother forum I belonged to. Turns out the information from that photo plus my ‘signature’ was easily googled and the previous owner of my dog FOUND MY HOUSE based on the building in the picture (around the corner from me) because it was connected to my Facebook and I had pictures of my house and garden (with my house number blurred out). She came to my door and left me a letter. So… some RANDOM found my actual house based on a few words in my signature in an unrelated forum and stalked my online photos. This woman posting her entire set of details/contact information is absolutely ridiculously dangerous. It’s as ridiculous as people who have that information available and post when they’re going on vacation and for how long. STUPID.

    • Kathryn Samaritis

      Holy crap. I’ve gotta know, what did the letter say? Did she want her dog back or something (I’m assuming it was a shelter adoption)?

    • StephKay

      Exactly what I was going to ask. I rescue animals, and I’ve posted my dogs photo online more than once. She was found horribly horribly abused, and the woman running the puppy mill was charged for it but fought the charges tooth and nail, and is NOT in jail despite them finding 900 abused, neglected, and sometimes dead dogs on her property. The idea of her contacting myself or any of the other people out there that worked so hard to give all those animals a new lease on life is frankly horrifying. I’d be really curious to know what the previous owner said when she found her.

    • Amy Williams

      Ugh, that would be so disheartening for the woman to be slapped on the wrist and not much more. For my situation, apparently it was the woman’s husband who no longer wanted the dog, but unfortunately I got so many different stories as to the reason for the return I just decided to ignore it and move on.

    • Allie

      I’m curious about this too.

    • Amy Williams

      She wanted to see the dog, asked about some of the personal items that were sent back with the dog and asked if she could be in contact with me to see how the dog was doing. I got this dog through a rescue agency and was given a completely different version of events as to why the dog was surrendered. Needless to say I told this woman through a new email account that I created solely for responding to her letter not to come to my house, not to speak of MY dog, not to worry about the well cared-for dog, that she (my dog) had enough personal items to be comfortable, and never to contact me again.

    • Tammy Thomas

      Yea you got me curious about the letter too.

    • Paul White

      Your story terrifies me.

    • Amy Williams

      Lesson learned; Never, ever post the name of a retired racing dog if they have been in homes before with a questionable background if you don’t want previous owners being able to track you down. Also, blur out ALL possible landmarks in ALL of your pictures before adding them to Fbook and lock down all of your privacy settings. ><

  • vivitop

    Team Crystal!!

    I’m friend with a “Maria” and really it’s exhausting having to explain every decisions I’m making about my own kids.

    • vivitop

      How can i edit my comment on this? whatever I’ll just post the “edit” version here:

      “‘m friend with a “Maria” and really it’s exhausting having to explain to her every decisions I’m making about my own kids – because she questions everything all the time, and not in a good way..

    • StephKay

      There should be an “edit” button next to ‘reply’ and ‘share’ underneath your post. It’s taking every ounce of my strength not to write “but whatever. It’s your post, not mine.” Maria style :p But seriously, I’m sorry you have a friend giving you a hard time. I think in the article everyone probably had their heart in the right place, but it really isn’t that hard to offer help without being snarky. Especially when we’re discussing something as sensitive as choices with ones child. I hope your friend gets a snark-ectomy!

    • Tammy Thomas

      in this case, it’s not about the kid it’s about revealing private information to the public. Nothing to do with parenting. Anyone can show up at their door now and then the mother would be wondering how they managed to get a hold of their address and name.

    • Ipsedixit

      It’s getting into parenting when Maria starts on about how Crysal is taking a huge gamble, etc. Whether its privacy or parenting, it’s not Maria’s business.

      Anyone can show up on your doorstep at any time for any reason whether or not its posted on facebook. If they do, it’s Crystals prerogative to turn them away. If Maria has a legitimate concern that Crystal has somehow placed her kid in peril, call the authorities. If not, MYOB.

    • Cee

      Because Crystal can just turn away child predators, burglars and identity theives.

    • Ipsedixit

      Call the police if there’s a threat. Or take your lumps if something happens because of your stupidity. That’s crystals prerogative and not Maria’s business.

      It’s not Maria’s job to police what someone else decides to post on Facebook. Especially when that person doesn’t seem to care about your input. What’s she going to do about it? Berate Crystal into seeing her point of view? Hahaha. That seems like its working out real well.

    • Erin W

      Exactly! She does not need to let them in. If her kid is old enough to be out and about alone, she should already know about stranger danger. If her kid isn’t old enough, Crystal will always be there. The internet was not the beginning of weirdos targeting children. And it didn’t put an end to the other ways that the weirdos do it. General, reasonable caution in ALL situations is the solution here. Changing her internet settings will not render Crystal’s child free from harm.

  • Mary

    This is why I don’t broadcast everything on facebook. One of my friends did that and she got robbed while out one night because she posted that she wasn’t going to be home.
    Remember people, facebook is NOT a personal diary, it’s a PUBLIC forum!

    • Paul White

      posting you’ll be gone is dumb. Posting the fact your kid’s having a party at your house (while you’re there)? Eh.

    • goofyjj

      but you’re giving a potential burglar a list of who will be at the party and not home……

    • psychethos

      Eh, it’s not on you as the party thrower to make sure that other people don’t announce their plans on facebook if they don’t want to.

    • Bubble

      Well, I usually don’t give my address out to more strangers than necessary. I definitely don’t on the internet.

    • portlandme

      What about when you post one of those invites on facebook then invite people what’s not to say strangers will show up to that.

    • Xyzzy

      I don’t share personal info (or use Facebook much) but I suspect that robbers use Facebook *after* they’ve picked out potential houses and found out when the safest time to break in would be, so the online info only make it slightly easier. (At least, the suburban neighborhood I’ve spent most of my life in has been hit 2-3 times over the years by robberies, and all of them had some trait that indicated the criminals had carefully ‘cased’ the house well in advance.)

  • Emmali Lucia

    Honestly, I’m sorta on Crystal’s side. I mean, you can’t be paranoid about everything. If Maria had just simply said “You can change the privacy settings by…” then it would be a lot less snarky. Is it just me? Or is after the second sentence just pure snark?

    Esp. the “Your kid, not mine.” I just want to scream “F*** you Maria!”

    • Ordinaryperson

      I’m on Crystal’s side too, I mean relax lady. But also, it takes like 5 extra seconds to create an invite only event, and I’m sure Crystal didn’t want or expect her entire list of facebook friends to cram into her house for a birthday party.

    • Ipsedixit

      Yea…what is Maria’s end game? To voice her concerns or to push her point of view? She gave her PSA, she was rebuffed, but she felt the need to battle instead of just walking away. Why? She wanted to be right. She flew right past Concern into Judgy McJudgerson territory.

      This could be anything – if Maria thinks bottlefeeding is tantamount to abuse, should she make snarky comments after someone doesn’t agree with her? What if I post a picture of me drinking out of a water bottle and Maria’s a recycle freak, should she get in my face about it? Just because someone has an opinion doesn’t mean they should voice it. Maria let Crystal know about the public posting and it should have ended there.

      If its not something you’d call the police over, let other parents do their job because your input means nothing unless its requested.

    • Helen Donovan

      While I think it was dumb to post the info & that Maria’s first comment was o.k. (could have been better but not awful), I competently agree with hating “your kid, not mine.” It is right up there with “I’m just saying….” as one of those comments that brings on the urge to bitchslap the speaker/poster.

  • Timba

    I think it might have been best to just…post the invite, but with no last name, and using “At the house!” for the address…anyone who needs to know where it is either will, or can ask.

  • AmyB

    I think Maria could have just said “I am a friend of a friend and I can see this, you might want to adjust your settings so strangers don’t get this information”. The end. She didn’t need to go on and on about the details on the invite and what it means and she certainly didn’t need to reply to any more comments. She started from a judgmental standpoint and it got worse from there. I think it was stupid of Crystal to put all the information on FB, but I’m guessing she really didn’t think it out and her subsequent replies of flippancy were defensive, not how she really feels.


    This is reason #152 why I don’t have Facebook.

    Not only is it tacky, it’s just lazy beyond belief. It would take exactly 5 more minutes to send an email instead.

    Or you know, there’s this old fashioned thing called “a telephone.” I hear some of these smart texty thingies can be used as one of those things too. Us fogeys used to use ‘em to dial up people & have an actual, speaking with our own voices, person-to-person conversation with words spoken out loud & everything.

    Also if Maria has thought of it you know someone with the wrong ideas has thought of it (see Amy Williams’ post below).

    • Xyzzy

      I’m not into Facebook and definitely favor the Old Internet (email, usenet, etc.), but how is it less tacky/lazy to CC a bunch of people in an email (with or without a snapped photo) or text message?
      I believe people use Facebook for invites primarily because it keeps track of who has RSVP’ed or declined for them and (I think) handles reminders. I’ve read that quite a few people these days feel that talking on the phone takes too much time and is intrusive if not set up in advance.

    • zeisel

      Evite is amazing for this sort of thing and you actually do some kind of work in sending out the invitation to everyone and it keeps track of every rsvp!!

  • Eliza

    I definitely think this is sharing too much. And did Crystal not see the irony when she said, “Last time I checked, I tagged Jami, not Maria.”? That is the whole point – people you aren’t even friends with can see it!

    • Bubble

      That’s what I thought. She might have a sense of “humour” – but a sense of irony she does definitely not.

  • cady

    This is one of the reasons Facebook is awful in an etiquette sense. Let’s take all child- and parenting-related drama out of it and look at it this way: It’s rude to tell all of your friends about the awesome party you’re having that only some of them are invited to. You wouldn’t tell your five best friends about a party you’ve invited only three of them to over drinks, yet on Facebook people will tell all 300 of their friends about parties 10 or fewer of them are invited to. And, of course, probably about 250 of those people won’t care, but you can bet your ass there are a dozen or so who feel kind of left out.

    In any case, if you refrain from telling your 300 closest friends and all of their 300 closest friends all of your business, people won’t be butting in and telling you things you don’t want to hear. That’s why they invented private messages.

    • portlandme

      Who the heck has 300 facebook friends, lots of people do, plus if you open the door to stupidity don’t be upset when it comes a knocking

  • Dramatic Anti-Climax

    I’m totally on Maria’s side. As a concerned parent, she was trying to point out the fact that by tagging people in pictures, you lose control of who sees the picture. Instead, post it to your page, and set the controls to just friends. You can’t be paranoid about everything, but some things used to be called “street smarts”; however, they are becoming more and more obsolete.

    • Ipsedixit

      Would you argue with a stranger in a grocery store if they didn’t agree with your advice?

    • Dramatic Anti-Climax

      That wasn’t the point Maria was trying to make. And no, I don’t talk to anyone in public… I avoid even people I do know. But the point was that someone was spreading information carelessly, and anyone could get to it. If a parent was talking loudly about their child’s upcoming event, or something similar to this, I would probably tell them that they should keep that information private. And if I made a mistake this big, I wouldn’t pick a fight with someone who was just trying to help.

    • Ipsedixit

      The information she was spreading was her own. That’s her business. If someone is talking about their child’s event in public, that’s not your business to stick your nose in either. Not everyone lives in a world where they’re in fear of a pedophile lurking around the next aisle. Maria’s original comment is just trying to be helpful, but she’s the one picking a fight when Crystal doesn’t agree with her advice.

  • Tammy Thomas

    “I tagged Jami, not Maria” that’s the whole point Maria is trying to make that anyone can get a hold of it. Then Crystal will be the first shocked if a creep shows up at her door. This is why the internet is not for everyone.

  • Tammy Thomas

    Facebook keeps on insisting me to link my phone number to it, i keep on telling facebook to go fuck itself for this particular reason. Even if I have the setting on “just me” someone can easily hack my account and get it. Some people don’t realize that the internet is a technology and behind every technology there are hackers.

    • Xyzzy

      I agree; the *last* thing I need is for my messed-up ex-BF to get my phone number or any contact info at all… *shudder* I haven’t noticed it asking for my phone numbers, but I use AdBlock Plus & Element Hiding Helper, which probably kill it by default

    • tikimuppet

      I had that problem, so I changed my number to a fake one. There’s no way I want my personal mobile number on display, especially as I have a lot of friends on Facebook just to play games with

  • LiteBrite

    What do I think? I think using “Facebook” and “privacy” in the same sentence is a modern-day oxymoron. Really, there is no such thing as privacy on the Internet, much less on Facebook. I’m on Facebook, I like it, I post pics of my kid, etc, but while I’m choosy about the people I friend and am familiar with Facebook’s privacy settings, I am under no delusion that my stuff is on total lockdown from someone who may want to access it. (Although I can’t imagine why. I lead a pretty boring life.)

    Having said this, when I read this earlier today I was on Crystal’s side. I still sort of am in that I don’t believe you should live your life hiding in the shadows of paranoia. However, I read this again, thought about it, read the comments, thought about those, and decided Maria has a good point, despite the fact she could’ve just as easily brought this up in a nice private message minus the bitchy tone. This is something Crystal needs to know apparently. Hell, we probably all could use a lesson in online privacy. Over Christmas I posted a pic of my son at my MIL’s house and tagged my BIL because he was in the pic. Suddenly I had several of his friends commenting on the pic. At first I thought, “Hey, wait! How are they getting access to my Facebook pics?” Then I did the mental equivalent of face-palming and said “Oh of course, dumbass. You TAGGED him.” The comments were fine – it was just a pic of the kid holding up Legos – but still, I don’t know these people. So, not only do we need lessons in online privacy, some of us – me – need refresher courses.

    I think the takeaway point is that all of us – parents or not – need to be aware of what we’re posting, no matter if it’s a picture of our nude kid or a detailed invite to a birthday party. We also need to have the expectation that while most of our online activities are not shrouded in secrecy, we can take steps to at least keep them slightly veiled. Simply put, if you don’t want “strangers chiming into someone else’s business” then take the necessary steps to minimize the chance of that happening.

  • Redcordelia

    I think I see both sides. I despise fearmongers and I refuse to live my life according to someone’s idea of a danger that may or may not be real. Also, very few people are likely to crash the birthday party of some kid they don’t know. Heck, I don’t even go to kids’ birthday parties when I’m invited by my friends. And Crystal didn’t seem to even know about members’ only events until someone told her. But at the same time, it is a little trailer park-like to take a picture of the invite and put it on facebook. She could have called on the phone, and that would be more personal.

    • Simone

      Few people are likely to crash kids’ parties. You would also think that very few people would be interested in raping six-month-old babies, and yet because this happens, I don’t publicise my children over the internet.
      Predators who start with the internet are sometimes IT professionals who can extract enormous amounts of information from seemingly innocuous or private details. One could show up at this child’s house in three years’ time and convince this little girl that they are a family friend… This stuff happens. The internet is too big and we don’t know where it all goes. It is not worth it.

  • wmdkitty

    They’re both out of line.

    • LiteBrite

      Totally agree. Both of them posted information that was probably best left to a private message.

  • Allie

    I’m with Maria on this too. Particularly given that Crystal could have just as easily sent all those tagged people a private message or created a private event page to invite her friends in lieu of a status update.

    Of course, I come from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t think Facebook eliminates privacy – just the privacy you don’t want. I’m constantly getting flamed by my flist for refusing to post pictures of my “bump.” No one seems to understand that from my perspective, if they really want to see a pregnant belly, they should grow their own uterus’ in order to look at one every day. Some things are just private. I get to choose what’s private for me, and if people think I have too many things that I consider private, it falls distinctly into the realm of “not my problem.”

    So I guess that makes me the opposite of Crystal.

  • Flora

    I’ve tried really hard to stop tagging people on FB– it really annoys the shit out of me that no matter what your privacy settings are, when you tag someone everyone they’re friends with can automatically see it. MASSIVE privacy flaw, and one that most folks don’t realize. I’ve even had people comment on my stuff and get mad at ME for responding because they don’t realize our mutual friend didn’t post it.

    Maybe they’ll start offering Facebook 101 classes at community centers?

  • Cee

    Some of the comments defendin Crystal boggle me. No, Maria is not fearmogering or being paranoid. Divulging all that private information on Facebook or on the internet really is something risky. I had my identity stolen as a child at a time where there was no internent! Now WITH the internet it has become even easier to do so. Also, pedophiles and criminals are sometimes very sophisticated to get what they want…read the news sometimes people! Anyone can be on facebook and without proper selection of your settings private information can be exposed and the fact that Maria, someone that Crystal does not seem to know attests to the fact…hell, the fact that the conversation is now on a website attests to it even MORE! If B was not a stand up lady, all Crystal’s information would now be available to us on this page!

    Maria could have been nicer, but she is not being paranoid. She is asking someone to be cautious. Would a person who saw you accidentally didn’t strap your child’s seatbelt correctly before you pulled out of a parking spot be paranoid and not allowing you to you live a happy life? Would you just trust that your good driving and that everyone around you is a good driver that wont get you into a car wreck?

    • LAwcat

      If someone came up to me and let me know I was doing something potentially harmful I’d say thanks, evaluate the risks and go on from there. If I decided not to take their advice, I’d expect them to move along and accept my judgement.

      In the seatbelt situation there’s a difference between letting someone know of a risky situation and beating a dead horse. If someone tried to fix the seatbelt without my consent, kept following me around arguing the issue, or wouldn’t let me move my car, that’s crossing a line. Additionally, if I post a picture of my son being formula fed on Facebook and someone chimed in that breast is better, I’d state that thanks, but it wasn’t for us. If they kept replying back with statistics or saying that my kid was going to have a lower IQ or told me “it’s a HUGE gamble!” or “your kid not mine,” I don’t think that is appropriate. That’s essentially what Maria did here. She started out with good intentions, but put her nose where it doesn’t belong.

      Crystal did something I wouldn’t do, but I wouldn’t sit there and argue with her because its not going to accomplish anything. At some point you accept that people have personal responsibility for their actions. Maria had good intentions, but she just wouldn’t let it go she she should have.

    • Erin W

      “Would you just trust that your good driving and that everyone around you is a good driver that wont get you into a car wreck?”

      Um, kind of yes. That is what we do. I drive through green lights assuming that nobody will sail through on the red. I keep my eyes open to see that they don’t. I trust my own driving, my ability to be on defense to my safety, but I also basically trust and expect that other people will be following traffic laws.

      My question is, What do YOU do? Do you not drive at all, or do you drive on special invite-only roads?

  • Jenn

    Reason #453 why I deleted my Facebook account. No drama, no privacy concerns.

  • Anon13

    I can see Maria’s point. If she (a stranger) can see the tagged submission, then other strangers can too. It is stupid and irresponsible to post that private information like that. No, you shouldn’t live your life in fear, but don’t stick your head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend that the world is full of nothing but rainbows and unicorns and nice people with good intentions, either. I’ve been invited to the birthday parties of plenty of friends’ children via Facebook. They make a private event page and invite only people that they know. It’s not hard. If my middle aged ass can figure it out, this mom should be able to, and if not, maybe get off your ass and mail the invites?

  • Simone

    Earth: 7 billion people. Percentage with internet access: No idea, but let’s conservatively throw it out there as, what, 3 billion? Half of those male (well over 90% of child predators are male). Down to 1.5 billion. Percentage that may be dangerous to this child? I really haven’t a clue by now. Perhaps the point I’m thinking of here, is that Crystal lives mentally in a very small, small world and has no idea how much information, or how many people, she doesn’t know. Her life, and now her child’s life, is now connected to potentially hundreds of people she will never meet in person and she’ll never understand how large the group who knows her daughter’s name, age, and address has just become.

    Potential child predators over the internet: something to not f**k around with.

    • Lawcat

      Statistically speaking, if there is a potential child predator, they were already invited to the party because they’re a relative or friend.

      9/10 times, I don’t need a Facebook page to find out the type of information Crystal published. The only added info this gives me is where they will be at a given time or place. But I used to find out info on people for a living, so maybe I’m more knowledgeable on methods. You’d be surprised at what you can find on someone just by having their name published in the paper.

    • Erin W

      There are many, many people who have equal access to her children’s name, address, and age. All her friends’ parents, the adults who work at her school. Every person who lives in the neighborhood has probably seen her face and the house she walks into. Isn’t it more likely that some creep will follow her home from the bus stop than that some creep will find her on Facebook?

      Maybe Crystal knows more than you are giving her credit for. Such as the fact that she doesn’t have to let anybody into her house whom she doesn’t know.

  • psychethos

    Really? I don’t have any issues with giving out this level of information on facebook. If you have someone’s full name, finding their home address is typically very easy in any case. It’s not like she is posting credit card information or social security numbers. Maria could have just said “Just to let you know, friends of the people you invited can see this. You may not want that to be the case”. There was no need to get into a “SO YOU’RE A TERRIBLE MOTHER” discussion.

  • Shannon

    Aside from the privacy concerns, is there anybody in the world who would come to a party when invited this way? It doesn’t feel like a warmly-extended invitation.

  • Persistent Cat

    God I hope Crystal finds this. I went straight for the comments hoping she’d be here.

    I think this is the laziest, most ignorant way to invite someone to anything. To take a picture of an invite, through Instagram no less, post it to FB and tell people “haven’t see you in ages, come by…”

    Maria was just telling her that others could see it but I have a feeling you don’t tell Crystal what to do. EVER!

  • Helen Donovan

    Tacky way to invite people aside, I’m not so concerned about safety in THIS situation (yes, kid will be there but so will lots of kids AND their parents, plus they will be home). However, I think that it is a bad habit to get into and to just assume that your friends all have good friends is foolish. Next thing Crystal will be posting vacation times/locations and parties she’s going to letting many people know when she won’t be home.

    And no way would I attend if I was Crystal’s friend and easily identified from FB – everyone and anyone would know where I was going to be on the day/time of the party. I don’t think there are that many sociopaths out there but I know that there are a lot of burglars.(has she never heard of the ones who strike homes of people who are at funerals?)

  • ScienceGeek

    It seems like once a month, out pops a the next story in a long line of house parties
    turning into borderline riots with places
    getting trashed, cops and tear gas and all that sort of crazy stuff.
    Every damn time, it’s been because a facebook invite ‘went public’, and
    there’s some dumbass sobbing on TV that they only meant to invite, like, 10 friends, and it’s
    not fair that the cops are charging them and their neighbours are suing
    them for property damage and (because they’re usually teenagers) their parents have grounded them for life.
    Of course, the possibility of 800 drunk
    teenagers rocking up to Crystal’s 6-year old’s party is just insane
    enough to be hilarious rather than scary, but still, pay attention to your privacy settings, people!

  • Lauren

    I agree that Crystal was being too flippant about it all. However, I will say that the comment about “frying her ass,” complaints about being disrespected stopped me from really being on Maria’s side either. Also, I hate when anyone does that thing where they don’t like where an argument’s going or they don’t want to listen to other people’s views anymore and just “end” a debate (like Maria did with “Ended.”). It just irks me. I guess I agree about the privacy issues, but don’t find anyone in this post particularly likeable.

  • p

    I don’t get why she didn’t just send the invite in a group private message. learn to use Facebook before posting all your info on it.

  • K.

    There are very few situations in which lecturing a stranger publicly on their own FB page does not render you a spectacular douchebag.

    “Safety of a child” *might* offer one possibility, but in this situation, Maria is simply being a douchebag. This kind of “PSA” should have been a PM to Crystal, from Maria or their ‘mutual friend.’ Maria wants to exercise self-righteousness more that she wants to do anything for Crystal’s kid.

  • Charlotte

    This post and its reactions confuse me. Mostly because it seems clear to me that Crystal didn’t do anything that awful and that Maria climbed atop a very high horse. Why defend Maria’s actions? Why even defend Crystal’s? They’re both silly and combative. Nobody wins here.

    Regardless of the sense of putting your address on Facebook, we can all recognize she was not putting her family in imminent danger. There are some dangers that we simply can’t protect ourselves from, others we can. Maybe putting your address on Facebook is crossing the line, but we can all recognize it’s not that big of a deal. She’s not handing loaded guns to her children, or letting the neighborhood sex offender babysit. Bad idea which indicates a casualness with private information? Sure. Actively putting her child’s life in danger? Come on.

    So, with that in mind, Maria was a bitch. if she actually was concerned about informing Crystal or even helping her out, there are so many different ways she could have gone about it. Instead, she saw somebody who isn’t as strict with her online information and lunged, with a barrage of, “I’m better than you!”s.

    She could’ve written a PM, in order to dispel any feeling of calling her own on so-called bad parenting decisions in public. It wouldn’t have changed the message at all except for to make it easier for Crystal to recieve. Why didn’t she do it? Becuase she was interested in letting Crystal know, in front of all their friends, that she cared about internet safety in a way Crystal did not. Cute, Maria. You’re so into safety that you must also inform everybody else of how unsafe you believe it is, rather than metaphorically, pulling Crystal aside.

    She also could have been kind about it and assumed that Crystal didn’t realize she’d made it available to friends of friends, instead of suggesting it was an issue of bad parenting (“Your kid, not mine.”). She could’ve made that sound nicer by saying that she’s messed up Facebook’s privacy settings before and they’re confusing! Then that whole smug tone would’ve been nonexistent and Crystal wouldn’t have been so defensive. Finally, she could’ve just said, “In case you do want to change it, just change the setting on that post to “Friends only!” then you won’t have to worry about strangers seeing your info! Oh, and happy birthday to your little girl! :)”

    She could’ve done that. She could’ve made it a genuine note of concern/information instead of one full of smugness and attempts to put her down. And sure, Crystal could’ve been the bigger person and not accepted her combative tone, rolled her eyes and said, “Thanks for letting me know, Maria,” and then moved on, but she didn’t. She adopted Maria’s attitude and they had a little spat. There is not one person here who comes across better than the other.

    Honestly, it’s always so strange to me how the readers of STFUP jump on to agree with Blair, even with issues seem more complex than that. I bet she could post a version of this siding with Crystal and most of the comments would lean that way as well. Both of these women were childish and decided to have a spat on Facebook about something rather minimal when it would’ve taken no extra effort to just *be nice*. That’s what this post is about — how incapable of dealing with minor conflict most people are.

  • Dustan J. Hlady

    “She took the laziest path…It has nothing to do with privacy, and everything to do with convenience.”

    I understand having an opinion. But judging someone’s motives with such little evidence is dangerous. Many people make a conscious un-lazy decision too live life without fearing strangers. Many people see fearing the other as a hindrance to their children. I’m not saying I agree with that world view but this article had too much opinion, not enough grace. You explained Crystal in a way that made sense to you instead of trying to understand her. Mothers have enough judgement. Sites like this are supposed to be a relief from that.

  • Nerdgirljenn

    Okay, I’m going to stay away from the Crystal vs. Maria thing for a bit.

    To the question that B asked regarding privacy. I don’t think it’s an outdated concept, hard as it may be (I don’t have many pictures of myself on the internet, and NONE that I myself have posted), neither does my husband. We’re older and tech savy, so that might be it too. We only got on FB this year, and mostly for me to play games.

    I also don’t think this is paranoia. It’s more that I’ve had my identity stolen 2x (the last time it was spread around, so I think they used the net to sell my info). The headaches, rage, and frustration that came from all that, have made me ever so cautious.

    So back to Crystal, to make the situation better: Know WHAT info to put online: full name, full DOB (month and date are fine or just the age, just pick one and stick with it) and address IS NOT the kind of info that should be out there. And when it comes to a minor child who has no control over such thing, I kinda believe strongly it is the PARENT’S responsibility to protect their child and that includes protecting their identities and privacy.

  • Wyslmtomorrow

    Seven paragraphs of wishy-washy filler and one screen cap someone sent in their own feed, followed by six more paragraphs of needlessly detailed break-down of a boring online conversation? Did you completely exhaust yourself after making a blog-book and obsessing over critiques of your television appearances, STFUP writer? This is getting seriously lame.

  • turtlefan

    lets see… adress+ time you are not home: handy for buglars.
    phone and adress: handy for scamming.
    where you and a lot of kids will be wearing only swimclothes:… hello, tons of party crashers! ( one round of google can get you a few articles on how things like this can and often will go wrong… )

    well, i guess i made my point here…

  • portlandme

    I know this is a bit off the subject but I was on my facebook page feed (whatever) and the local newspaper posted an article stating that the local transit would be “recording” what is spoken. EVERY COMMENTER said something to the effect, that’s so Orwellian, on Facebook! Nobody seemed to put two and two together that this was A)Facebook, and B) since they were posting on a newspaper I would assume their comments could be included in another article, such as “dummies don’t understand the internet

  • mommylonglegs

    Yep, I’m with Maria on this one.

  • Amber Davis

    As an 18 year old girl, I can agree that people most WAY too much information about their personal lives on There’s no sense of privacy nowadays. There’s such hypocrisy: Why would any child listen to their parent’s advice of “protecting their online information” when their own PARENTS can’t even follow their own advice. There is such a fine line between public and private information. People don’t seem to understand that once you post something of Facebook, it’s there FOREVER. And unbewonst to us, you never really know who could be accessing your information. Parents (and people) need to think: Is the type of behaviour you want your child to emulate? If not, THINK before you POST. What is wrong with people nowadays?

  • Rachel Sea

    So people can see her address, so what? People can still get addresses out of the phone book. You want to know what house has kids? Just drive down any suburban street on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Stranger abduction is incredibly rare, and highly opportunistic. A predator wanting to snatch a child is not going to show up to a strange kid’s birthday party, where there are likely to be a dozen adults.

  • Doc Holliday

    I have a FB page. I don’t use it, because they demand a copy of my driver’s license or cell phone to continue to use it. In fact, I’ve never understood FB. I understand it even less after reading a little of STFU, Parents and your columns here. There appears to be no limit to what people will post. Are they oblivious or just dumb?

    I don’t think people realize, once you put something out on the Internet, it is there forever. That means, with a little research, your kid’s employer will be able to learn everything about his growing up and how poor his parent’s judgement was.

    It is true that most child molesters are known to the children they molest, but the lady gave out enough information for someone to highjack her daughter’s entire identity and get a social security card with a little more research. Any luck and she could have $50,000 in credit card debt before she is 10…

    At least her mother didn’t post any child porn, I guess…