Opting In… Or Not

A while ago, there was a bit of a bruhaha that every contract you sign automatically opted you in to have your details sold and you had to search for a way to opt out. This has now changed, because it was obviously not ideal.

Ok, that was a bit of an obscure lead in to my point.

We have a social media ban on our daughter. No images, no mention of her name. We did this to protect her privacy, for starters. We also have various security reasons that I won’t get into right now. When she is of an age where she can make her own decisions about her privacy and security, what the world sees of her, will be upto her.

Further to this, it is illegal to publish an image of an underage person without the consent of their legal guardian. In social media, nobody ever truly considers this, but there it is.

Recently, we celebrated a big family birthday, an 80th. It was an enjoyable affair with family and friends we didn’t even know existed. Photos were taken, as they are. We ate, we toasted, we listened to speeches and smiled at cooing grandmothers who wanted a piece of our little person. I tolerated some unsolicited advice and a lot of knowing disapproval. We went home.

It never occurred to either of us to tell a bunch of octogenarian not to plaster our child’s likeness all over Facebook. And then my father in-law got a happy birthday call (he happened to share a birthday with the gent who turned 80) from his brother. The first thing uncle says after happy birthday, is “your granddaughter is very cute”

From the lounge, I hear Dad ask when he saw photos and my heart sinks. In the three hours since we had left the party, about a dozen photos of our child had been uploaded to FB without our consent. I know, so what, right? Wrong. For people as privacy and security crazy as us, this is a huge invasion. 

My father in-law is shocked. The very people who uploaded the photos, have grandchildren with social media bans in place (European police forces have started advising parents not to post images of their children). What follows is an awkward phone call, requesting the removal of all images and a very quiet family evening while 4 adults ponder who else took photos and posted them.

I realise we can’t protect our children from the world. I realise we can’t control everything. I just wish in this age where people share everything from their breakfast to their menstrual cramps on social media, that one would first be given the option of opting in.

Think carefully next time you post an image of someone else’s child. Do you actually have that parent’s consent, or have you just assumed consent, as they didn’t throw themselves in front of the camera, screaming No!?

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