Monday, April 14, 2014

Do You Put Your Kids' Pictures Up On Facebook? Should You?

Meeting My Granddaughter
On this blog, my policy is to not post pictures of family without permission or if I do, I try to alter the image.

Partly because I'm naturally an introvert.

Partly because my son, at a certain age, began objecting to having his picture taken, let alone shared.  It was a matter of respecting his wishes, even when I thought he was being a bit extreme.  But he did allow his grandmothers to take pictures, so I could see that he did recognize other people's needs.

Partly because my dissertation was on the concept of privacy.  My findings were that privacy was not so much a psychological need as it was an issue of power.  The power to a) prevent intrusions into your space and
b) control access to and distribution of your personal information.
Given that I saw a world where technology was making it more and more difficult, even impossible, to have control of your personal information, the next best option was that everyone's power to access information be equal throughout society so that everyone, being equally vulnerable, would have the same incentive to respect others' privacy.

That world is becoming more and more real.  No one is immune from cell phone video cameras - including people in positions of authority such as police, politicians, celebrities, teachers, CEO's.   Romney's 47% speech helped change the election when it showed up online.  Annonymous and Edward Snowden have put some of the most powerful and privileged figures of the world on notice that their information is also accessible.

So, with all this background, I've refrained from putting up pictures of family members without permission unless they are adequately altered so they are pretty much unidentifiable.

Part of me says that the new world we're in is making this sort of caution obsolete.  By exposing themselves - like women who began publicly saying they didn't want to live under the tyranny of being judged by how well they cleaned toilet bowls and coiffed their hair, or gays who came out of the closet - they removed the threat of someone else exposing them and gained a level of freedom to be themselves they hadn't had.

But part of me knows that if this exposure is uneven and unequal, these things can come back to haunt you.  But when it comes to my family members, I can't make that decision for them.

Your Kid On Youtube?

And one of my family members sent me a thank you for that yesterday along with this NYTimes article about a woman who put her son's picture on her Facebook page against his wishes - and her followup research and decision on that.
It was a great picture and one I wanted to share with my friends online.
My son, however, was opposed to the idea. “You’re not going to put that on Facebook, are you?” he demanded, flashing me the look my husband and I had long ago named his “dark and stormy.”
Yes, I told him: “You are my child, and I’m proud of you.”
“But it’s my picture,” he said. “And I don’t want it on your Facebook page.”

Read the rest of the article to hear what various so called experts had to say about it.  


  1. Conflicting needs. I dabble in the geneaology community quite a bit and transparency of history is the ethic there. Deleting a family fact such as Uncle Joe divorced your favourite Auntie Natalie is a generally bad call in fact-withholding.

    It messes up the records until the truth will out by another relation doing a common ancestor’s research. We have ways to keep information 'private' but it really isn't and so much is out there now that so many people don’t even know about. Additionally, the companies we sign up with hold legal rights to what you post to create that virtual research community.

    This hobby taught me the frailty of personal control of who we are unless we put information out to the world first. And then even that's fact-checked or distorted.

    Another thing that's come into my life is my own journey towards becoming a member of the (hold on) Religious Society of Friends [Quakers] in Britain. One of the its statements of conscience (when it was punishable by prison to acknowledge this faith as ‘non-conformist’), was to be 'plain in speech' – telling the truth in dealings with others.

    As I examined the ethical and moral foundation of this perspective, I came to understand the importance of being who one is. Part of my journey then was my decision to take up my full first name, Jacob, rather than the diminutive Jay I was given at birth. Jacob is my ancestor I was named for; I am back in Europe and I thought it fitting to be known by his name.

    Ironically, it now poses a problem of 'who am I?' with my family and friends back in the states. I hold two passports, one in my old name and one in my taken name -- one in my unmarried name and the other in my married name.

    This question isn't only about privacy or truth or history, it is what we chose to live with as consequence of our beliefs, known to us or not.

  2. A matter of posting family information I hadn't thought of.


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