Look around you at the different photographs that make up the distinctive design of my blog (if you’re reading the RSS feed, just this once click on this link — GoFatherhood! — so you can see what I’m talking about). Maybe it seems a bit odd for me to write about whether or not to publish pictures of your children online when I have a Web site design that’s built around photos of my own children.
But look again.
What do you notice? If you said “I can’t see any faces, other than yours”, you’re right. That was a primary design goal when my graphics guy and I spent weeks and weeks working on what you see.
Lots of other parents, both mommy and daddy bloggers, seem to have a far more laissez faire approach, not just including pictures of their children on their sites, but often having lovely close-ups that would make it trivial for a reader to pick out the child from a crowd.
Which leads me to the question: is this a good idea, or am I paranoid?
I dunno, maybe I’m just behind the times and privacy really is dead (as Bill Joy said) and I should just take a proverbial chill pill.
I mean, go to Google Images and search for family (pictures | portraits | picture) and you’ll find that it finds 242,000,000 matching images in its database.
242 million pictures.
And yet, it’s just a matter of a few seconds to dig up close-up pictures of children, full family portraits, and even baby pics. Click on one of those images and you usually end up on the writer or photographer’s Web site which all too frequently has personally identifying information.
I was going to demonstrate how easy it was to go from a picture of a cute kid to figuring out what town they lived in and, in many cases, what school they attend, but then I got a bit freaked and decided it was probably a bad idea.
My take is that the vast majority of people online are nice human beings who enjoy learning more about other people’s families. For them, I don’t mind sharing a picture or two of my children. But they’re not who worries me. What I’m concerned about is the tiny subset, the 0.01% of Internet users, who aren’t so benign and are just trouble.
Even if it’d only be one person who came across this blog every two years, that’s one person too many, it’s someone who I don’t want seeing pictures of my kids, even though I am giving up a lot of privacy by blogging about parenting and my family.
Am I paranoid? Many Mommy bloggers and Daddy bloggers seem to disagree with my concerns entirely, sharing daily photographic updates of their children along with highly detailed summaries of their day’s activities.
I still can’t help worrying, though. My kids are more precious than the richest jewels and I’d never want to put them at risk, but I do try to balance that against my desire to share my experiences as a parent here on this weblog. And so, my compromise is that I do not post photos of my children such that they’re recognizable, and I don’t use their full names, just first initials (like K-).
Let me ask you, reader: do you blog or otherwise write online? If so, do you write about your children using their full names? Do you publish photos of them on your blog, on Flickr, or elsewhere? Are you concerned about privacy?
Thanks for sharing. Just want to seed some conversation on this topic.