Online Picture Sharing Is New Territory And You’re Not A Mean Mom For Setting Boundaries
If you’re a parent, concern about online privacy for kids is nothing new, but that doesn’t make stories about stolen photos and child exploitation any less jarring. The sad reality is you can think you’re doing everything right and still end up a victim of online predators, just like one mom who recently told her story to Yahoo Parenting.
According to Yahoo, Utah mom Brittany Champagne was browsing the ‘People You May Know’ section on her social media account when she came across a profile that was using a photo of one of her kids as their default picture. She clicked on the page and found even more photos of her kids with hashtags and links connected to porn sites. Champagne has now had photos of her children removed from 20 different pornographic sites, but says even more are still out there.
Champagne says the stolen photos have left her “plagued by guilt and paranoia,” but the real problem, says Yahoo writer Rachel Bertsche, is complex social media privacy settings and general confusion about which settings give access to which people.
“Your account might be secure, but everyone else’s around you has to be as well,” Robert Neivert, COO of the online privacy companyPrivate.me, tells Yahoo Parenting. “If you share a photo with family, and then, say, your mother shares it and she isn’t private, she is effectively making your photo public.” The same can happen if someone with public settings likes a photo, Neivert says. “It’s very easy to accidentally make things public on Facebook or cloud accounts like Dropbox or other picture-sharing sites.”
The unsanctioned sharing of photos is a big problem for most parents who use social media. My own mother is guilty of constantly taking photos I send her in private and uploading them to her social media accounts without my permission. A friend of mine recently shared a funny photo of her baby on Facebook and had someone on her friend list take the photo without asking and post it on Reddit, potentially giving thousands of people access to the picture.
No matter how smart you try to be with your online presence, it’s impossible to control other people and that’s something that weighs on me every time I consider sharing anything about my kids. Social media and technology are a part of our lives, for better or worse, and it’s unreasonable to expect parents to go underground and never share a thing, but safety has to come into consideration and parents can’t do it alone.
Even though it’s awkward, a big part of protecting your kids online is talking to close friends and family about what is and isn’t okay to share and enforcing those boundaries when you feel like they’re being crossed. Opting to skip social media entirely is always an option but if my feeds are any indication, most parents aren’t going to do that, and they shouldn’t have to. Paranoia is not the answer. The best we can do is be smart about what we share and encourage those closest to us to exercise caution as well.