By now you may have heard the stories. Two mothers, in two separate incidents, innocently posted photos of their toddlers exposing parts of their bodies to Facebook and Instagram only to have the photos quickly removed from the social media sites and their accounts closed. There has been quite the backlash to the sites removal of the photos declaring the innocence behind the images.
You can read the details here:
The flurry of activity surrounding these two stories did get me thinking about the kinds of photos we, as parents, post on social media. As a blogger, I often post photos online. I am a fairly authentic person and write openly and honestly about my family and my children. I do post photos of my children online however I am very conscious about the types of photos I post. I have rules surrounding the images I share. Sometimes for my own personal reasons, as is the case with photos of Mr. T. in hospital. These moments feel intensely private to me and while I have written in detail about our time in the NICU and am more than willing to share my very personal feelings surrounding that time, I feel as though the images we have are meant for our family only. For that reason I have only ever shared one photo of him in hospital.
Our most important rule in posting photos of our children is no nudity. None whatsoever. No naked babies sprawled on blankets squealing in delight. No bath time images of splashing babies blissfully unaware that their baby bits are openly exposed to the lens in their face. I have beautiful photos of my children playing together but Ms. J, being very ladylike, is wearing a dress and is exposing her underwear so the photo stays offline. Photos of my babies in diapers, naked little bums or a topless Ms. J are all reserved for our own albums. They are all innocent. There was no ulterior motive behind the photos. They were simply us capturing the day-to-day lives of our children. Yet that’s just where they remain, with us.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees children the same way. Every day you hear of police raids breaking up child pornography rings. There are people out there who may not view my photos as innocently as I do. I am not naïve enough to think these terrible things don’t exist in the world. They are very real and very scary and I am not willing to take the chance that one of these terrible people might gain access to a photo of my child.
Let’s all be honest, do you know every single person on your Facebook friend list? Know them really well? What about the people on your friends’ friend list? If your friend were to comment on your photo and their comment in turn shows on their feed, are you comfortable with everyone who may view that photo? I can be honest and say that I have people on my friend list that I haven’t seen in 20 years. I don’t know anything about them anymore, except for what they want me to see via their own Facebook page. Privacy settings are constantly changing, and all I have to do is hold down my thumb on a photo from my phone and I can save it for myself. I am not willing to take that chance with my children. Is it possible that I am being paranoid? Yes of course it is. I am still choosing to err on the side of caution. This means I have consciously elected to keep photos of my children in any state of undress offline.
Apart from safety, I choose to keep these photos offline because my children do not have a say in the shots I choose to share. They may grow up to be intensely private and not appreciate naked photos of themselves, even as toddlers, floating around the internet. Now I know you may argue that I am sharing private details of our lives online anyways but I personally feel that there are some details that are acceptable to share and others where they should be a part of that decision. Their body is their body and who am I to throw that out in cyberspace without their agreement?
In the end you decide on where your comfort level is. You may feel perfectly fine with posting photos of your little ones in the buff to share with family and friends. The fact of the matter is that every social media site has a list of rules and in my humble opinion I don’t think they can be too strict when it comes to minors and nudity. These rules aren’t created to piss you off. They aren’t in place to cause problems for you as a parent, photographer or social media user. They are put in place to protect our children.
How can you argue with that?