Does posting photos of your child on Facebook make you a bad parent? [POLL]

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy

Baby. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.Yesterday Amy Webb wrote a piece for Slate titled We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online.

In the article, Webb explains why she doesn't allow photos or personally identifiable information about her daughter online - because "it’s the only way to defend her against facial recognition, Facebook profiling, and corporate data mining".

Knowing what we do about how digital content and data are being cataloged, my husband and I made an important choice before our daughter was born. We decided that we would never post any photos or other personally identifying information about her online.

Andrew Leonard, who says he posts a lot of information and photos about his children online hit back with an article in Salon.

Social media brings people together, he argues. His sister, who was at the birth of one of Leonard's children, loves keeping up with how her niece and her siblings are doing. And Leonard says he does the same with his brother's baby.

In a time when we often live so far from each other, maybe it's a good thing to share photos and updates because "it helps us stitch our exploded communities back together, and keeps us in closer touch with the people we love".

We are strengthening the ties that bind a larger community of family and friends together, embedding our stories and lives in contexts that are larger than those of the individual nuclear family or neighborhood street. Some anonymity may well be lost through this process, but something valuable is also gained; a sense of togetherness that is often missing or attenuated by modern life.

But what do you think? Is posting pictures of your children online making a choice for them which should really be their own? Are we really "creating a generation of kids born into original digital sin"?

Or is it inevitable today, with everything and everyone seemingly online?

Please have your say in our poll, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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19 Responses to Does posting photos of your child on Facebook make you a bad parent? [POLL]

  1. "creating a generation of kids born into original digital sin"? What a lot of pretentious bollocks. What sort of meaningless phrase is that?

    In any case if it was OK for us to have our photos taken at school by some bloke we'd never met and who always looked a bit creepy and then kept all the negatives, then what's the problem with facebook and its ilk. For heavens sake its called SECURITY and you make you photos only visible to YOUR FRIENDS who YOU CHOOSE.

    Sheempuls!!

    • I think the concern here is more that the government just steals whatever photos it wants regardless of our privacy settings.

      • Dr. No · 355 days ago

        The government doesn't need to steal the information. They already have access to it because it is mandatory that the government have it... I feel the bigger threat is the collection of information by companies that do not have the same regulatory restraints or safeguards in place.

  2. Mick A · 356 days ago

    No, it doesn't make you a bad parent - the same as giving your children's names and ages to the banks who run savings accounts you have set up for them doesn't make you a bad parent. They are of course going to use this information for marketing in the future.

    Having said that, I do agree with Amy Webb. Your children's information and faces in a photograph are none of Facebooks damned business. In an ideal fluffy marshmallow type world, it would be lovely to present pictures of your kids and their activities online - but we don't live in that world. They should be protected from being 'catalogued', the same as people in the Netherlands before WWII should have been protected from being 'catalogued' - information subsequently used by the Nazis for ethnic cleansing. Most people are unaware of the potential harm, so they carry on and post their kids pictures and personal details. This ignorance is hearily welcomed by Zuckerberg & Co

  3. Hang on - the Daily Mail is using a different URL today...

  4. Not policing your friends list and not knowing how to use FB security makes you a bad parent.

  5. Johan · 356 days ago

    Some parents may not wish to post their kids pics. Some parents may not wish to immunize their kids. Some parents may not wish to seek medical attention for their kids. Some parents may not wish to send their kids to public schools. All are rights parents may exercize.

    Alas, they would actually be the bad parents.

  6. Freida Gray · 356 days ago

    I don 't know whether posting your child's photo on-line makes you a bad parent or not.As one person commented, we have no problem with allowing strangers to take photos of our children at their school then allowing said school to print those photos in books viewable to the public.Yet at the same time,a newborn has no choice or say in whether or not their photo gets plastered over the internet when maybe this would be something they would not wish for when they are grown.

  7. Not posting about your children on Facebook doesn't mean that your children aren't on Facebook; if you use Facebook to communicate with others yourself, and those others know your children, they are very likely posting about your children on Facebook -- as that's not a privacy concern to them (not their children).

    In this kind of situation, it seems that Diaspora would be a much better social medium than Facebook, as it allows you to be the one in control of your (and your children's) personal information.

    That said, I've happily raised children with aunts, uncles and grandparents spread around the world, and we communicate just fine without traditional social media -- video chats, private photo shares, instant messages, emails; they all work well, but require intent in connecting with the other person for some focused "together" time (well, except the email, but that's not really private by any stretch of the imagination). It seems to me there's something lost with passive "push" relationships.

    That doesn't make those who use them "bad" though -- just with different values of what's important with regards to privacy/publicity.

  8. wrap2tyt · 356 days ago

    I wouldn't say that it makes you a bad parent, but whatever it does, it's not letting your child have a decision about whether or not they should be "immortalized" in Internet perpetuity... go ahead put yourself out there, but your kid has their whole life to live.

  9. Nigel · 356 days ago

    Anyone who has ever been a victim of identity theft knows that posting photos online is risky. And posting photos of anyone — children or otherwise — without their permission is criminal…maybe not legally so, but it’s still morally wrong. It’s doubly so if the photos depict young children who don’t have the maturity to make a responsible decision for themselves. Parents who do so are utterly irresponsible.

    Facebag just makes it easier for people to behave irresponsibly. When you couple their relentless pursuit of new and more insidious ways of exploiting people's personal information to the detriment of their privacy with the advent of photo recognition software, anyone who posts such information PUBLICLY is asking for trouble.

    As for Andrew Leonard's rant, his argument about the benefits of sharing information online completely misses the point. Only a sociopath would deny that social media interaction "...helps us stitch our exploded communities back together, and keeps us in closer touch with the people we love." The question is not whether we should stay connected; rather, it’s whether it makes sense to parade our connections in public.

    Security-wise, it’s not a good idea. Besides, my relationships with the people I love are between me and them, and certainly not Facebag fodder.

  10. Joad · 356 days ago

    We could have used similar logic years ago when we all took our vacation photos to mall 1-hour photo places, who knew who saw and made copies of the photos. I read the article Amy Webb wrote yesterday and thought it was rather silly. FB is a way many families today share photos and daily updates. Like anything else, it's a matter of only posting what you'd want on the front page of your hometown newspaper, keeping your friends list pared down to actual friends, and staying on top of your privacy settings. Our children are going to be living in a digital world, we need to show them how to do so responsibly.

  11. Facebook is still a relatively new thing, so the jury is likely still out on this.

    We likely won't know the answer to this question, until the children whose faces and activities are being broadcast on social media, grow up into adults themselves in 15 to 20 years.

    I'm sure they'll let us know their thoughts on the matter then.

  12. I think it is bad form to post pictures of other people's children online, for example a picture at a family gathering or a birthday party. One should seek permission first.

    Otherwise.... meh. I think it is completely inevitable anyway; my 10 year-old daughter can't wait to get on Facebook (we don't allow it yet). By the time she is a teenager, the world will be absolutely saturated with cameras, Google Glass-esq devices, you name it. I see absolutely no benefit to huddling in the shadows like some terrified neo-luddite caveman, twitching in terror at the prospects of being advertised at. Grow up!

  13. As a parent I can say, that posting your child's personal information online must be carefully monitored. We have decided, that we share information with our friends and relatives online. But we have put in place two essential measures: First of all, we no longer post pictures showing our kid's face. Those we had uploaded once are no longer accessible. Second we closely watch our privacy settings. Our posts are never publicly published, all of them are limited to our friends.
    Looking at prism, tempora, corporate data mining and corporate data selling I think that everybody is already part of an marketing scheme and monitoring activity. It is literally impossible to avoid all of these schemes. But it is absolutely legitimate to keep as much information to yourself as possible - and as wanted.

  14. Brave New World.... it is coming you know!

  15. As a parent I can say, that posting your child's personal information online must be carefully monitored. We have decided, that we share information with our friends and relatives online. But we have put in place two essential measures: First of all, we no longer post pictures showing our kid's face. Those we had uploaded once are no longer accessible. Second we closely watch our privacy settings. Our posts are never publicly published, all of them are limited to our friends.

  16. For the record, the author of the article, Amy Webb, was found to have photos of her daughter PUBLICLY available on her Facebook profile, until it was brought to her attention through the less-than-impressed commenters on the original article.

    She also weighs her kid's poos.

    'nuff said ...

  17. "Is posting pictures of your children online making a choice for them which should really be their own?"

    It is a good question to raise, although I don't have the answer yet. What I'm thinking of is how it is different from many other choices that we let parents make for their children: which school they go, which sports they practice, which religion they follow. I can imagine ways in which those choice have far much influence on the child than a bunch of baby photos on the net.

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About the author

Anna Brading is Naked Security's editor. She has worked in tech for more than ten years and as a writer with Sophos for over five. She's interested in social media, privacy and keeping people safe online.