Police in Germany created a viral hit this week when they put out an urgent appeal for people to stop stripping children of their privacy.
The appeal, from police in Hagen, was posted, appropriately enough, on Facebook.
It was first posted on Tuesday, and by Friday morning, it had been shared by more than 245,000 people.
In the post, Hagen police noted that people freely post onto Facebook pictures of children nude while in a pool or at the beach, as if there were no consequences for posting such images.
From the translated post:
Maybe you find the photos sweet today, but your child will find them endlessly embarrassing in a couple of years. Or your child will even be bullied. Even worse: a pedophile could use such photos for their purposes, publishing them elsewhere.
We already know that the average parent is like a loving but voracious paparazzo, uploading an eyeball-popping 973 photos of their child on social media by the time he or she reaches the age of 5, as online safety site The Parent Zone has reported.
We applaud Hagen police.
At Naked Security, we often point out, to all the oversharing parents out there, that posting photos of children is not necessarily safe behaviour – particularly when photo-posters are oblivious to privacy controls.
In fact, The Parent Zone study – done on behalf of safety campaign knowthenet – found that 17% of parents have never checked their Facebook privacy settings at all, while almost half (46%) have only checked once or twice, despite Facebook being the number one spot for sharing kid pics.
Look, we know that you very likely know how to set privacy controls on Facebook. We’re preaching to the choir when it comes to readers of security blogs – many of you refuse to have Facebook accounts to begin with.
So do the kids in your life a favor: the next time you see images of some bare-bottomed tot being posted far and wide, don’t just look away.
Don’t tell the poster that the kid is adorable.
Instead, get stern.
Educate your peeps. Tell them what apps and sites their kids should steer clear of.
Definitely point them to our tips on how to make their Facebook account safer.
And by all means, please do point them to Facebook privacy controls.
Who knows? Maybe that little blue privacy dinosaur Facebook came out with last year can save kids from future harassment and abuse.
Image of kids courtesy of Shutterstock.
20 comments on “Police: Stop posting pictures of your kids on social media!”
This is just ridiculous paranoia. There’s no reason that children can’t live safe public lives. As far as the nude pics? Guess what; we didn’t need FB for mom to whip those out every time we brought a new girl home, so again you are just cultivating an environment of paranoia. This site has a lot of good security advice, and you should stick to that because you are very good at it. But I don’t follow this blog for parenting advice, and if I did, I would be a really crappy parent. Stick to what you’re good at.
I don’t think this is overly paranoid at all. It’s suggesting you think twice about blasting out photos of your children for the entire world to see.
Posting a nude photo of your child to Facebook with no privacy settings in check is an entirely different story than “whipping out” the photo album to embarrass your kids to a small room full of people who don’t get to take those photos with them or share them with other people.
Facebook photos are for the entire world to see… a friend said to me recently “you could reach fewer people posting an ad in Times Square than posting something on facebook,” and I think that’s an entirely accurate statement.
Look at the kids who have become “memes”—some embrace it, and some say it has caused them a great deal of pain.
Whether you care about the potential embarrassment factor down the road, this is a security issue for your children, it’s not meant to be parenting advice. If that many parents don’t know or don’t care to check their privacy settings, their kids photos very well could end up being used for nefarious means.
Wouldn’t you be abhorred to find the adorable picture of your little one in the bathtub circulating in a pedophile forum? That’s what they’re talking about. Would that be worth sharing it so a bunch of acquaintances could like or comment on the photo? I don’t think so. And it’s not paranoia, it’s a very real risk.
Just because you like posting pictures of your children (or seeing your friend’s/family’s kids) doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do if you/they aren’t deliberate about checking privacy settings.
It doesn’t matter how buttoned down you think your FB account is, those pics can be seen by anyone on FB. All it takes is 1 person on your friend list to have their privacy settings at Public. And honestly, taking your pics out of your wallet to show a few people can’t be compared to the millions of people who have access to view those pics on FB. Once it’s on the Internet it’s there forever. And pedophiles troll for any little misstep.
1 person vs anyone with access to FB? id take the 1 person, who ive met any day
I feel like they’re over blowing the issue dramatically.
I’m not a parent, but I have friends who are.
And no, it’s not being blown out of proportion.
Even with a picture set to ‘friends of friends’ the image can easily reach hundreds of people you know absolutely nothing about.
There are people who want indecent pictures of children, and the internet is by far the easiest way to get them. Don’t make it easy.
Working with troubled kids I will tell you this isn’t being over
blown at all. It is easy for us to be trusting and to think all is well. The truth is there are a lot of disturbed people in the world and Realy why take the chance with your children. There is a difference of being a teenager or older and having mom whip out the photo album to a date from having your whole class see and mock the pictures….
I appreciate this post because people need to be aware of over-sharing of their personal lives. While some of the people posting on here saying this story is over blown or being paranoid, I personally don’t believe so. If you have frequent this site, well you obviously know better but what about the people that don’t know about the dark side of the net? Sharing is easy nowadays and a blog entry like this is wonderful to share to those that have no knowledge of the ramifications of posting “harmless” photos of their loved ones.
If you consider this overblown, take a look at it from a different perspective.
Unlike days of yore, when Mom whipped out the pics of you in the bathtub whenever you brought a new date home, if you put the photos of your kids online, they’re essentially available for the world to see, forever. That’s more like your Mom putting the naked pics of you next to your name in the phone book.
And unlike in days of yore, these photos aren’t sitting there with the context of a mother bragging about her sweet little chubbykins, and then putting the photos away: they’re online, linked to further information about the child and their family and friends.
In 20 years when your child is in the workforce, those photos will still be available to anyone who searches for their name.
There are reasons that in most jurisdictions, third parties need release forms from parents to film/photograph children. With parents voluntarily publishing all this information, both the parents and the children lose all control over how that personal information is shared and for what purpose, forever. And that’s before the child is old enough to make their own decision on whether they WANT their life to be that public.
This isn’t about parenting advice; it’s about privacy advice — both the privacy of parents AND the privacy of children.
Do you really want to be broadcasting your child’s name, photo, and location (at time of photo) to everyone who stumbles across your facebook feed or photograph? If you can’t see the darker implications of this, that’s great — we need positive thinkers in the world. Unfortunately, the world contains all kinds of people, and once you’ve released this data, you don’t get to pick and choose who sees it or what actions they take based on it.
If you stick to simple rules of not sharing photos in public places, most of the complicated privacy issues vanish. But if you choose to share photos of children in public places, you have a neverending tightrope to walk to ensure that your child’s personal information is handled correctly. It’s a lot of work when done right.
But yes, until they come of age, all photographs of children are in the hands of their legal guardian(s) to do with as they see fit.
What about the people who would take the pictures to identify your child to kidnap them? People also don’t think about that
* You shouldn’t post pictures of children without their permission.
* They cannot give their permission if they don’t understand the implications of having their photos and personal lives shared freely and publicly on the web by someone that isn’t them. After all, there’s usually an age of consent to consider for sexual contact, which is the age that a child is generally acknowledged as having the maturity to understand such an encounter. The same goes for their right to privacy. They will eventually come to understand the point to safeguarding their privacy, but at a young age, they cannot understand that.
* Therefore, you should stop treating children as property (they’re not a brand new purse you can show off on the web whenever they match your shoes) and recognize they do have rights, and you should wait to post pictures and details about them on the web when they have the ability to genuinely give their permission to do so.
I agree and since my daughter iwas old enough to ask I have always asked her – and I would not share ‘cute’ naked pictures of her either!
But what will mummies (and some daddies) do then? They love to show off via their kids. The kid pictures get them attention and they love it! I have a childfree EX friend who put up a pic of her holding another friend’s baby on her FB. It got her SO MUCH attention that she made it her profile pic and she kept that thing there for months! Might still be there for all I know…
I’m looking forward to the aftermath of this oversharing by attention seeking parents. When this generation’s babies and children grow up there is going to be hell to pay for the young parents of today!! lol
I see people all the time posting pics of their kids butt naked in the tub or only in their diaper or shorts when they are young girls, like under 2,. I want to say why are you doing this, you know you didnt like it. But deaf ears.
Isn’t Facebook privacy” an oxymoron?
Mentioning location data reminds me of a time I told an online friend who live halfway around the world to me and who I’d never met, that she had locations settings showing on her online posts
– “It doesn’t matter” she said “it’s only a vague location” so I put the coordinates into google maps, zoomed in and looked at street view “do you drive a blue pickup?” I asked “No!” she replied “but my next door neighbour does!” she turned location off pretty quick after that – people just don’t always understand the risk.
Folks, please quit trying to hold on to a world which no longer exists. You believe that in twenty years, a baby picture can ruin your child’s life– but that assumption is rooted in antedated norms. Name one human being whose life has been ruined by a baby picture.
The world in twenty years will look nothing like the world in your head. Conventions and norms change over time to make way for better ideas. Take gay marriage for example. Twenty years ago, no one could have imagined it. Now it has been normed. And yes, that’s a GOOD thing.
A baby picture is no longer sacred. These things are now shared with strangers and family alike. It’s fine to wonder how this will change social relations but it’s ridiculous to use words like “property” in reference to children. Most photos I post are of things which are beautiful– flowers, trees, houses, lakes– and none of these are my “property.”
If the concern is that parents might be violating their child’s future “brand”, maybe you understand why this strikes me as pathetic. The attempt to monetize images of children is a way of asserting ownership. I don’t think parents who share photos on social media are commodifying their kids unless they ask for financial renumeration. Which they don’t.
Perhaps we are taking the model of porn and applying it to child-parents relations? That should me more cause for concern that parents sharing photos. Oh, and unlike the author of this piece, I don’t “respond to cash and spicy sites.”
Remember when having an answering machine was helping to make you a target of criminals, since they’d know you weren’t home?? Things change and then we really understand the true issues. Naked kids, maybe there you shouldn’t share, but pictures of kids is not a huge risk.
hopefully the hysteria over so called pedophilia will subside soon. yes there are some. but you doing more damage to kids obsessing that everything kids do attracts them. years ago the kid on the milklbox and stranger danger did more harm than good. and lets not forget the phony day care center satanism and abuse perpetrated by the people claiming to be experts