Why I Am Hiding My Children's Faces In Photographs

Wednesday, 11 September 2019



Oversharing on social media is definitely something we have all been guilty of in the past. When we are really angry and really want to send a cryptic hidden message to someone on our friends list, or something as simple as sharing a photo of our children on their first day of school, we rarely bat an eyelid when we see it online these days, and maybe that is the problem.

When I first clicked the confirm button that began my blogging journey, I had many decisions to make. One of which was to what level I was willing to share information about myself and my children. I rarely told people where I was from, for example, as it is a relatively small town and I always feared that it would give away my location if I did, and so I just stuck to 'North East' or 'England' instead. I also was very aware that I really didn't want to share my children's middle names or surnames, despite how much I personally love them, because it felt like too much of an identifier and not one I was comfortable with being public information and accessible on a quick Google search.

"It’s difficult, if not impossible, to control information once it’s posted online. You can’t prevent anyone from taking a screenshot of your post and disseminating it beyond your reach. Your deleted posts, while apparently gone from your social media profile, may still live on in Internet archive websites and on the social media servers themselves. With that in mind, you should consider how your photos and stories may impact your child when he’s much older, even an adult."
Source

Because I was restricting so much information, I felt like sharing their pictures and first names wouldn't make a difference, as there are hundreds of thousands of children in England and 'how would anyone be able to find my child just from the occasional picture of his face?', right? I knew I always felt off about it though, and so I asked many people in the same position as me how they felt about it too. Did they worry as much as me? Am I just being paranoid? I was usually met with the response of 'it's fine, everyone does it, you have nothing to worry about', 'you can't be certain there aren't people in your street who are weird, if it's going to happen it will happen and there's nothing you can do about it, so just don't worry about it'. 

Now I am not saying I don't agree with that, it is completely true, but still, every time I clicked publish on a picture of them I always worried about who might see it. I rarely checked who viewed my Instagram story, and one day I did and seen a mans account who wasn't following me who had viewed most of my previous stories, and although it might have been innocent it completely freaked me out, and so I stopped posting videos on my stories for a while and blocked him, obviously, from ever viewing anything again. I also was alerted to the fact that somebody was following me on Twitter who was incessantly asking parent bloggers about their children and messaging them privately asking for inappropriate images. It weirded me out not knowing how long this person had been seeing me post photos of my children, if they might have saved them, shared them elsewhere, anything.

The reality is, we can't ever vet our following list completely if we are posting these images online for the world to see, and if you have public accounts (which someone like me needs to advertise my writing), then someone doesn't even have to be following you to check out your profiles on a regular basis, even without you ever knowing. It isn't the same as Facebook where we know what is being displayed and to who, and we can allow access to the people we trust, you are inevitably putting your trust in the whole world to not be weird and perverted.

It is a big ask when you consider the state of mankind right now.



The final straw was when I received a friend request from someone. The profile was really suspicious looking, I hadn't heard of the name and when I checked, he was mutual friends with someone I had on Facebook at the time (this person has since been removed). The friend I had has a child, and had over 3000 friends, and my first thought was "why on earth has she added this person, with no information on his profile and no pictures, he can see all of the photos of her child". I've always been extremely strict with who I allow onto my Facebook since having children. Everyone on there is either a member of my family or somebody I know and trust thoroughly. Then it dawned on me that I really couldn't have an opinion as I was basically posting photos of my children to thousands without truly knowing who they are or whether they were using fake accounts, and I decided enough was enough. I didn't want to risk it anymore.

As of today, I have removed all images of my children and I won't be showing any photographs of them online that are identifying in any way - this means the only photos I will post will be of the back of their head, the side of their face or something like the photo I used above. I don't want anybody to be able to pick them out of a crowd and if my content is boring without their faces in it then so be it.

This week has been rife with people posting their young school children in their uniforms with the full logo on display. I know people want positive comments and it is a really exciting time, but when posting things like that, you're letting somebody on the internet know exactly where your child is between school hours through the week. A quick internet search can tell them everything they need to know about the establishment and along with everything else you share publicly, there's a chance they'll know way more about your child than you'd ever want them to. I know it's not nice to think about negative things like this, but it is realistic. The internet makes it easier than ever for these weird people to get their kicks, and I imagine that people who are extremely open about having children (like parenting bloggers and YouTuber families) are easy targets.

I also just want to quickly add that this is not a post to bash people who do share images of their children as I am a firm believer that it is your decision as a parent to decide what is best for your child. I do think something like this is a stark reminder of how disgusting the world can be though, and how it is extremely important to be mindful every time you click post. A funny photo of your child might be something brilliant to share with the world right now, but it might not be what they want to show up when their future employers puts their name into a search bar to find background information about them.

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2 comments

  1. I started doing exactly the same recently, I only share face shots to "close friends" function on IG now - everythinggg else is the back or side of his head. I've been slowly rolling it out since July and no one has noticed or questioned it which is nice 🙈 xx

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    1. Funnily enough, I did notice you doing this! Especially when I realised you were using the close friends function (only because I'm one of the close friends, quite pleased not gonna lie 😂) but I figured you must have been doing it for a while and I just hadn't seen you mention it! Xx

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