Share personal stuff privately
The best ways to share personal news, photos and videos with sensitivity
The best ways to share personal news, photos and videos with sensitivity
Anyone can do it
IT WILL TAKE
As little as 10 minutes to get things set up
Some photos to share
The ubiquity of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook means that today not only is it easy to share whatever news and updates we want to with the entire world, but that for many there’s a bit of a tendency to overshare. This can be a problem, both for those sharing – since it can have some privacy implications for them, their family or others in their care – and for people who follow them. We all know the hell that is the relentless deluge of vapid updates and barely distinguishable photos from new parents that clog up Facebook!
Happily, we can solve both problems in this tutorial, highlighting techniques and services that make it easy for you to share this news in a way that not only safeguards privacy but also that keeps the updates from overwhelming those friends, acquaintances and distant relatives who aren’t that interested.
Throughout, we’ll be using the common example of sharing photos, videos and more to keep people up to date with the progress of a new baby, but in most cases the fundamental techniques we show can be used for a whole range of things – updates from a five-a-side football league, photos from a playgroup, or a big home renovation project, say – basically, anything that you want only a hand‑picked group of people to see, either because it involves children (or others whose identities you want to protect) or because you know most people won’t be interested.
There are more methods for achieving this than the few we highlight here – and if they work for you, great – but in choosing which to walk you through here, we’ve concentrated on two things. First, they had to be easy to use, not just for you in sharing things, but also for people you’re sharing them with. This is particularly important because, especially with a new baby, you’ll probably want to share with some
Make use of the different levels of visibility Facebook offers you for every post that you make
people who are aren’t as confident with technology as you, so you need to reduce that friction as much as possible. Second, we wanted services that, for the most part, are either platform-agnostic, or which have apps for a broad range of platforms, since it’s likely you’ll be sharing with people who use Android and Windows as well as iOS and OS X.
By invitation only
Our favourite of the ways we’ve found to enable all this is 23snaps (23snaps. com). You can see a step-by-step tutorial on using this free service on the next page. Although this means it’s not best suited to other kinds of sharing, its focus on exactly the things you want when sharing news of a baby make it perfect for that purpose. With its support for photos, videos, measurements, status updates and the concept of families built-in, you can think of it basically as a kind of Facebook clone built specifically for sharing baby news!
Facebook itself, of course, can be used for this sort of thing, and it’s actually really good at it. The trick is to make use of the different levels of visibility Facebook offers you for every post that you make. While for most of us, the default options – Public or Friends only – cover what we need, you can create as many dedicated lists as you want of specific Facebook contacts. Create one called ‘Baby news’, for example, adding only those people you want to share this stuff with, and then when you choose that list from the ‘Who should see this?’ drop-down at the bottom-right of the compose area, only those people you’ve added will see it – and only they will see any activity that happens on it, and they may not share it further. You create lists by placing the pointer over Friends on the left of your News Feed and clicking the More link that appears. Also note that Facebook allows you to create events, such as for a new arrival, and their visibility can also be limited to specific lists.
Remember that you can apply different permissions to different posts
and photos, so you might post an announcement of a new birth to all your friends, significant events to ‘Baby news’, and an unfiltered torrent of baby updates to another group called Grandparents. You can change the level of permissions after you post too, if you change your mind about who should see it. Note, however, that if you want to apply any sort of privacy at all on Facebook, the people you want to share with will need to have a Facebook account, which might rule out this option for some relatives.
Avoiding social networks
Some people, though, might be uncomfortable with giving so much information to Facebook – it might strike you as especially disagreeable for a new baby to immediately start their life on that site, for example – but there are plenty of other options.
Apple’s is called iCloud Photo Sharing, and you can create a shared album from Photos, iPhoto or Aperture on a Mac running OS X 10.9 or later, or from an iOS device running iOS 7 or later. You can invite people to this shared album, and they’ll be able to comment on its contents and, if you allow it, add their own media. Be aware, however, that unless you enable Public Website in a shared album’s settings, only people who use iCloud can see what you post to it, which, unless the people you share with are invested in Apple’s ecosystem, may defeat the purpose for many. One nice thing to be aware of: photos and videos shared in this way don’t count towards your iCloud storage quota.
Still, you need some way to get your photos up and onto the internet so that they’re available for others to view, and in part since so many of us already use Dropbox, it’s worth investigating its sharing options, specifically its new Carousel app. As we write, you can only create a shared album from the Carousel iOS app, but people you share with can view it either in their Carousel app or in a web browser. The handy thing about Carousel is that it combs through all the files you’ve synced to Dropbox and lets you easily create a shared album from the photos and videos stored there.
The extent to which your photos are private with Carousel is a little complex. You can choose to make an album available to everyone who has its web
address – that is, the photos aren’t protected on the web, and while it’s highly unlikely anyone would stumble across them, you don’t have any control over the link being shared further by others – and then also optionally allow anyone with the link to comment or just view. Alternatively, your friends and family can log in with their respective Dropbox accounts to see everything and like and comment on photos too.
If you’re a big Twitter user, consider setting up an account for your new baby, your sports club or some other entity, and setting it as private, only allowing the accounts you bless to see the updates and photos you post there.
Finally, don’t forget about iMessage and email – yet also bear in mind their limitations. While this is one of the most private ways to share media and news – especially in the case of iMessages, which are encrypted in transit – it’s also a bit of a faff, and the logistical overhead involved in sending stuff by email to everyone who wants it, rather than just making it all available in one place for them to come and get can be onerous.
If you go down the route of sharing by email, be aware that you’ll need to balance quality with file size. Photos attached at their full resolution might not send, or might fill up or even be rejected by the recipient’s mailbox (though Mail Drop can help with this), and if you shrink the size of the photos, they might not look as good at the other end, especially if recipients print them out. That goes double for videos – consider uploading them to YouTube or Vimeo instead, and setting privacy options there.
Don’t forget about iMessages, which are encrypted in transit between you and their recipients
23snaps is an excellent service for sharing baby updates, but there are lots of other options for different kinds of news too.
The fine-grained control Facebook gives you over who sees your posts is actually pretty sophisticated.
Carousel makes it easy to share photos and videos you’ve already uploaded to Dropbox’s servers.
If you email photos using Mail, consider using its Image Size option, which can reduce their file size – at the expense of quality.