We all want to share those photo-worthy mo­ments of our chil­dren with our friends and fam­ily, but is it safe? Fol­low th­ese so­cial me­dia rules for par­ents be­fore you post, says Lori Co­hen

Your Baby & Toddler - - Features -

✓ DO CHECK YOUR PRI­VACY SET­TINGS This is the most im­por­tant so­cial me­dia les­son. Limit who can see what you post by ad­just­ing your set­tings – the de­fault set­ting al­lows strangers to view your pics and com­ments. To do so on Face­book click on the pad­lock icon on the top right hand side, then “Who can see my stuff?” Un­der “Who can see my fu­ture posts”, choose the one which suits you, such as friends, or cus­tom (you can limit some of your friends from see­ing your posts). You can also limit past posts ret­ro­spec­tively. A big­gie – don’t use the lo­ca­tion set­tings when you post a pic, or turn off your lo­ca­tion set­tings al­to­gether. Would you like a stranger to be able to track down where your child lives? Nope.

On In­sta­gram you can also make your posts pri­vate to en­sure that only fol­low­ers you ap­prove can see them. To do so, go to your pro­file. Tap “Push No­ti­fi­ca­tion Set­tings” and ad­just your set­tings to “Pri­vate”.

“What South African law says about pri­vacy is the more mea­sures you take to pro­tect your own pri­vacy (or that of your child’s for that mat­ter), the greater ex­pec­ta­tion of pri­vacy you can have in a set of cir­cum­stances,” say lawyers Sarah Hoff­man and Emma Sadleir of le­gal con­sul­tancy The Dig­i­tal Law Com­pany. That’s le­gal speak – but it means if you show you have tried to pro­tect your pri­vacy, and some­one still in­fringes on it, you may have a stronger case.

✓ DO THINK ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S OWN PRI­VACY RIGHTS TOO With pri­vate on­line info about Face­book users be­ing shared with other com­pa­nies, data min­ing is big news right now. Face­book tracks ev­ery like, share and com­ment you make to un­der­stand more about you. The ob­jec­tive is to build a dig­i­tal pro­file on you – which ben­e­fits the com­pa­nies ad­ver­tis­ing on Face­book. Yup, that’s why when you an­nounce your preg­nancy to your friends on Face­book you’ll “coin­ci­den­tally” start see­ing spon­sored posts for baby para­pher­na­lia ap­pear­ing on your feed.

“Since the lat­est Face­book data breach, it’s im­por­tant to take note of what we share of our chil­dren – we’re now liv­ing in a dig­i­tal-friendly world. I al­ways ad­vo­cate in shar­ing your life with the world, but I also take note of the se­cu­rity of my fam­ily and es­pe­cially new­borns,” says Con­rad David, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Hash­tag South Africa.

Thanks to face recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy, Face­book will also be build­ing a pro­file as­so­ci­ated with your child’s face. Fast-for­ward to adult­hood and be­fore your kid’s even ma­tric­u­lated there will be a pre­cise record of his likes and dis­likes – just ripe for the pick­ing of cor­po­rate data min­ers.

✓ DO THINK BE­FORE YOU POST As you post hundreds of snaps of your kids over the years you are slowly build­ing a data­base of images of them. A data­base their fu­ture part­ners or em­ploy­ers will po­ten­tially have ac­cess to. Would your son or daugh­ter re­ally be happy with an HR man­ager in twenty years’ time be­ing privy to the highs and lows of their for­ma­tive years?

A simple strat­egy is to use a pseu­do­nym or nick­name for your child when post­ing pics of them so that in the fu­ture the posts won’t ap­pear if some­one does a search us­ing their name. But an­other thing to con­sider is less tech­ni­cal. It’s got to do with your child’s emo­tions. Be­fore you post a pic or com­ment, think about how your child would view it in later life. You may have felt the need to vent in the mo­ment, but your rant about the fact that they haven’t pooped in a week isn’t go­ing to go down well with your fu­ture teen.

✗ DON’T SIGN AWAY YOUR RIGHTS You may have snapped the win­ning shot, but once you’ve posted it you no longer own it. The terms and con­di­tions of many so­cial me­dia sites state they have the right to use up­loaded images to pro­mote their ser­vices with­out ask­ing your per­mis­sion. You agreed to the terms and con­di­tions when you signed on, so there’s no es­cap­ing this. “Your data on so­cial me­dia, ir­re­spec­tive if you’re pri­vate or pub­lic, can still be used for ad-based cam­paigns, from the hash­tags you use to the images you share. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that th­ese plat­forms are cre­ated with the re­turn on in­vest­ment goal of sell­ing ads and your data,” ex­plains Con­rad David, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the so­cial me­dia agency Hash­tag South Africa.

So­cial me­dia poli­cies and trends change con­stantly – so when you are asked by a plat­form to sign up­dated terms and con­di­tions en­sure you check you are happy with the changes be­fore you hit “tick”. And keep an eye on the fu­ture, sug­gests Con­rad. “Be­cause the so­cial me­dia cul­ture we’re cur­rently liv­ing in is still so new, we don’t re­ally have any idea if there are any long-term im­pli­ca­tions for our chil­dren and if so, what they will even be.”

✗ DON’T POST NUDIE SHOTS Your new­born hav­ing his first bath at home is a mag­i­cal mo­ment – and one you can’t re­sist shar­ing with your “friends” and “fol­low­ers”. It’s innocent and heart­warm­ing, but in ex­treme cases, this could even have le­gal reper­cus­sions. “The cur­rent def­i­ni­tion of ‘child pornog­ra­phy’ in our law is very broad, to the ex­tent that even seem­ingly innocent pho­tos like th­ese could tech­ni­cally be con­sid­ered to be child pornog­ra­phy (al­though pros­e­cu­tion in sit­u­a­tions like th­ese is un­likely),” says Sarah.

You could also find your­self be­ing cut out of your “so­cial” cir­cle. Face­book has a no-nu­dity pol­icy, so if a fel­low user re­ports your post you may have your ac­count sus­pended. In­sta­gram’s com­mu­nity guide­lines also pro­hibit pics of “par­tially naked” chil­dren be­cause of the risk of other users copy­ing the images and us­ing them for less than innocent pur­poses. “It has been sug­gested that 50 per­cent of images shared on pae­dophile sites have been taken from par­ents’ so­cial me­dia sites. We lose full con­trol of where our kids’ pho­tos end up when we share them on­line,” warns Con­rad.

Sarah agrees. “There are a lot of creepy peo­ple out there and we need to think about who may have ac­cess to our con­tent, and most im­por­tantly, that of our chil­dren.”

✗ DON’T POST PICS OF OTHER PEO­PLE’S KIDS WITH­OUT PER­MIS­SION Many day­care fa­cil­i­ties and schools are in­tro­duc­ing opt in and opt out doc­u­ments that al­low you to de­cide whether or not you give per­mis­sion to have your child’s pho­to­graph taken. You may be happy with a pic of your tot be­ing used on their promotional web­site, but con­sider that it makes other par­ents un­com­fort­able, and you need to con­sider their views be­fore you pho­to­graph their kids on play­dates or get-to­geth­ers. “The same rules of a right to pri­vacy ap­ply to other peo­ple in this sit­u­a­tion,” con­firms Sarah, and it could tech­ni­cally have le­gal reper­cus­sions if they chose to take it up. Even if she’s your bestie, ask be­fore you post pic­tures of your chil­dren play­ing to­gether. It’s po­lite and the right thing to do.

A good rule of thumb? “Be­fore you post some­thing on­line con­sider if you would be un­happy with one of the fol­low­ing Ps see­ing it: your par­ents, a po­lice­man, a prin­ci­pal, a pae­dophile, a prospec­tive em­ployer or a phisher,” sug­gests Emma. “And when it comes to your child, err on the side of cau­tion and leave out im­por­tant iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion such as where your child goes to school and your sur­name.” YB

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