5 Tips For Protecting Your Baby’s Pictures Online
When I read an article that one of my editors wrote about how her child's photo was stolen and used as a meme online (someone even swiped the picture and turned it into a product that is sold on Etsy!), I was shocked.
As a writer and a blogger, I am constantly worried about putting images of my children out there in the online world for people to see/steal/stalk. It's kind of like a workplace hazard — part of the job sometimes. You know it's a reality, but hope it never really happens to you.
Unfortunately, it really does happen, and although it is technically illegal to steal another person's pictures, it's incredibly hard to actually enforce that law and follow up if someone steals your kids' pictures. And with Facebook and Instagram, you really don't have to be a blogger or a writer to have your kids' pictures at risk.
Here a few tips for protecting those precious images online. For everyone's sake.
Download an app to securely share your baby's pictures
Of course, the #1 reason I use social media like Facebook and Instagram is to show off cute pictures of my kids. But in reality, anyone could hop on my profiles, even though my accounts are private, and take a screenshot of those pictures and/or swipe them.
Instead of sharing your baby's pictures for all the world to see, you could look into downloading a secure app, like Tinybeans, that lets you store and share photos, create photo books, and even record milestones with only people you choose.
The Tinybeans app also works through websites or emails, making it a nice option for family and friends who don't actually want to download yet another app to their phones (or for those who don't have a smartphone).
I also know friends who have started social-media channels specifically for their babies and kids. It's not necessarily safer, but it does limit the exposure of people who view them, so only Grandma and Grandpa might follow “Baby E's Facebook Page” versus having the page available to all of your old college buddies.
Watermark all your pictures
This option is super time consuming and cumbersome, of course, but it's definitely worth looking into if you're computer savvy or if you blog about your kids a lot. I use the free site PicMonkey to mark my pictures with at least a text watermark for my site, but you could also create your own watermark, save it to your computer, and “stamp” each picture to save time.
After her experience, Maria recommends watermarking photos. “I recognize it was incredibly naive to think my photos were safe just because I designated them as ‘all rights reserved',” she said. “I can't change the fact that my son's face comes up on Google images as soon as you type ‘pouting baby,' but you can do something about your kids' photos by being proactive from the start.”
Talk to your friends and family
You may take 10,000 steps to ensure your kids' privacy, but what happens if a good-meaning friend or family member uploads a bunch of pictures of your kids without your permission?
Happens every day, right?
If you're really concerned about privacy issues, you may want to have a discussion with anyone who takes pictures of your kids. For instance, my sister once took a picture of my kids and had the location services enabled on her phone, which listed the exact location of the shot — not cool with me at all.
Check the privacy settings
You can issue some control over who sees your kids' photos online with privacy settings. Here's the guide from Facebook on how to adjust photo privacy settings.
You can also check out the “Privacy” page under “Settings” for full privacy control. For instance, you can opt out of search engines being able to link to you on Facebook if someone is trying to search specifically for you. (Which, yes, I know, is creepy.)
For Instagram users, there aren't really any specific privacy controls besides setting your profile to “Private,” but you do own all images that you post to Instagram, although it's a good idea to read the fine print of the app to understand what you are giving them permission to do. Essentially, they use your pictures, but you retain ownership.
Turn off location services
Like I mentioned, I don't like using location services on my phone, as it can “stamp” pictures with locations. You can shut off location services access to your photos on your phone, but still enable it for use on other apps, like Google maps.
Do you post any pictures of your kids online?