Gone are the times when eager relatives had to wait for pictures in the mail to see your charming little one. Many parents choose to share pictures of their children via Facebook, Tumblr and other social media outlets. According to a survey by Posterista, 94 percent of parents upload photos sometimes, with 64 percent uploading pictures at least once per week. Although these sites are a convenient way to give friends and relatives a peek into your life, they can be dangerous for your child’s online identity.
Woman on computer by Ed Yourdon via Flickr
Security Concerns Associated with Placing Pictures Online
Who Owns the Images?
Who Can View Your Child’s Pictures?
Facebook is only as secure as you make it, in terms of who can view your photos. The default Facebook setting is a public profile, and many parents never bother to change their privacy settings. Even those who restrict their profile settings so that only friends may view their pictures might forget that their grade school friends or distant acquaintances are on the list.
A growing concern among parents, reports Slate’s Amy Webb, is the potential for data to be aggregated across Web sites. Companies continue to develop increasingly sophisticated facial recognition software. As a result, information about your child may be pulled from numerous sites — Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, blogs — and aggregated. In the future, these applications may be able to draw on biographical details such as your child’s name, age, address and other personal information, creating a risk of identity theft.
What Parents Can Do
One approach to dealing with your child’s online identity is to go cold turkey and post absolutely no pictures of your little one online. For many parents, this seems a little too extreme. Most individuals choose to carefully manage the content placed online to minimize risk. Possible choices include:
Limiting access to Facebook friends. Changing your Facebook privacy settings so that only friends can see your information is a good first step. Scroll through your friends list and delete anyone who you’re not close to anymore. If you don’t want to cut these individuals completely out of your online life, make a list of the friends and family you’re closest to. Next time you post a cute picture of your child, limit access to just that group.
Consider the types of pictures you post. Of course, some of the best pictures of your child include her scrunched up face or adorable antics. However, only posting pictures that show the back of your kid’s head or his tiny little feet is a great way to prevent facial recognition software from doing its work.
Be proactive about identity protection. Periodically check your child’s credit score to see if any accounts are registered under her name, a sign of identity theft. Also consider investing in an identity protection service. Jobs at Lifelock.com are devoted to monitoring the Internet, credit bureaus, and other agencies to alert you when an identity breach has been made.
Create a safer online photobook. Consider posting your pictures to Picasa and sending your closest family members a link. This prevents the photos from living online in a searchable environment accessible to dozens of people.