For those that missed it last week, French internet law expert Eric Decroix, citing that country’s privacy laws, urged parents to stop posting pictures of their children on social media. Not because of the obvious reason, that other people really aren’t as interested in pictures of your kids as you think they are, but because of potential liability.
Unless you can prove you are publishing and distributing these pictures with their consent, not only can your kids sue you, they can send you to jail for a year. The national police force threatens fines of up to 45,000 euros, or $49,000 US.
Divorced? Your ex could also sue you. Another French lawyer that specializes in internet law, Viviane Gelles, warns that both parents are jointly responsible for protecting images of their children.
Have the notoriously private French gone crazy? Overreacting to our new culture of oversharing? Or do they have a valid point here, a message to parents that we need to look in the mirror before lecturing our children about their online activities?
Not only do I share pictures of my children across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Google +, you are reading this on a website that I started for the sole purpose of sharing stories and observations about them. At the time, one of the first things I did was to make sure that my family was on board. As in many facets of my life, the wife’s approval was acquired first. The teenager was next, as I assumed she would be the most concerned with details of her life becoming public. The little gets angry if she sees me writing and it’s not about her, so that constitutes consent as far as I’m concerned.
A lot has changed since then. Posts about the teenager have grown more negative in nature, my hesitation increasing every time I hit the publish button. These are often the least promoted of my writings, but as I’ve said before, it seems somehow dishonest to focus only on sunny stories about one child while ignoring the reality of our problems with the other. This is still a site primarily about my experiences with parenting, with all the messiness that comes along with the job.
It seems that a moderate degree of common sense should be adequate. Just about every social media site has privacy settings that can be customized. Avoid pictures and posts that you feel could be potentially embarrassing in the future. Never share a picture of your child bathing or in any scenario that could lead to unwanted attention from the darker corners of the Internet. If they are old enough, talk to your children about what they feel comfortable with you sharing.
Today’s technology has made it possible to share our children’s development and accomplishments with friends and family and disseminate personal information in ways that can sometimes outpace our understanding of potential consequences.
In most cases, common sense and a moment’s consideration before hitting the “post” button is all that should be needed, but is that really good enough?
The French don’t seem to think so.
This originally appeared on ThirstyDaddy.com.
Photo: Moyan Brenn/Flickr