Stop! Don’t Post Pictures of Other People, Especially Kids, Online

Written by Guest Writer, Christine Derengowski

Raise your hand if the birth of your child was announced via a Facebook or Instagram post before your epidural wore off. I can’t be the only one who awoke from their first night’s sleep in the hospital and came across pictures of myself online holding a minutes-old baby with over a hundred likes and comments. The poster didn’t bother to tag me or ask permission, my work as a vessel for said baby done and over with. Just me?

I understand if you don’t want to out your well-meaning friends or family, so I’m going to take one for the team here and make the uncomfortable request on everyone’s behalf.

Don’t post pictures of other people online without their permission, especially kids.

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I was forced, very early on, to have a few awkward but necessary conversations with my family and friends who hadn’t considered why this rule regarding my kids might be important to me. They were incredibly understanding and have been respectful ever since. But I was a little irked to be put in a position that could have been avoided had they simply asked before posting.

Whether you’re a parent wondering how to broach the subject with your inner circle, or someone who posts freely without permission, here are a few things to consider before you lay down that boundary or cross it.

I’m careful what images I post of my kids and who can see them. I choose moments from our highlight reel and not pictures that might embarrass them in the future. I’m heedful that things like our address or the name of their school aren’t in the background. And I set my privacy setting so only my friends can see them.

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Note the street signs are cropped out

I can’t guarantee that others will choose pictures of my children with the same discretion. I’m also uncomfortable with your friends and friends of friends and so on having possible access to personal information about my kids. 

As they get older, my reasons go beyond privacy. So I’d like to extend that request beyond the obvious {to most} scenarios like baby’s first picture to settings like playdates or birthday parties. We all understand that everyone can’t be invited to everything, but I know I can mitigate a few hurt feelings by not sharing pictures of these events online. 

If you get that coveted Chuck E. Cheese invite and just have to post pictures of your child, ask before posting a picture with any other guests and ask before tagging the host or guest of honor. 

It’s also important to consider there are safety reasons people don’t want to be online. People have toxic families, abusive pasts, sensitive jobs, etc. We could literally endanger someone’s life by posting their image online without their knowledge or permission. We don’t know everyone’s situation and can’t assume everyone is automatically ok with having their image posted publicly, including people who don’t have social media of their own. It’s always safer to ask.

Perhaps my least important reason not to post pictures of someone else online is pure vanity. I would have loved for the first image of me as a mom posted for all the world to see to be flattering. I would have loved to be the one who chose that image. I didn’t appreciate being assaulted by my swollen face looking irritated rather than lovingly at my newborn. 

I bet you’re willing to admit you’ve been bothered by a less than complimentary picture of yourself posted without your thumbs up. You’ve stumbled upon at least one image and wondered how someone you consider a friend could insult you in such a way. 

There are multiple scenarios and reasons people don’t want certain pictures posted on social media without permission. This can all be avoided if we simply check with the subject before posting.

Have you had a picture posted you did NOT want online? What other situations would you add to the conversation?