EARLIER this week, police issued an announcement urging parents to think twice before posting photos of their children on social media as the images could be altered digitally by predators and used as child porn material.
They said cases investigated by the police office against cyber crime had uncovered paedophile files of images of children who are either dressed in light clothing or naked on the beach or in the bathroom. By posting online, these photos can be seen, copied, distributed and stored by anyone.
In an ideal world parents should be able to share photos of their children without them being exploited but it’s a sad fact that the world doesn’t work like that. There have always been perverts but never before have they had such easy access to child pornography, including photos normal people consider innocent and share with abandon.
Even though most victims of child sexual abuse are molested by people in their immediate or extended environment, parents should not exacerbate the phenomenon by giving perverts even more material to ogle, share or even sell online. The mere thought that there is even a remote possibility that a paedophile has possession of a photo of your child should be enough of an incentive to stop randomly sharing.
There is tons of advice on the internet about to how to safely post photos and keep them private, but even with the utmost care, cursory research shows that nothing is truly safe on the web in terms of privacy.
One US internet blogger was contacted by the police a few years ago about an innocent photo of her child that was found on a computer containing “indecent images of children”. Others have discovered their children’s images had been used in ads without their permission. A photo could even reveal a child’s location to potential predators.
Legislating against posting underage kids’ photos online is not the solution as it would just open up another host of legal and privacy issues, which would probably result in innocent people landing in hot water and further cement the notion of the ‘nanny state’.
It should be down to parents to show good judgment, though in many cases this probably too much to expect such is the grip of social media and today’s apparent need by people to air every last detail of their lives. Who has 1,000 friends and relatives in real life anyway?
If they really feel the need to share without the added drawbacks, they could easily compile a mailing list of close friends and relatives, and just email photos they think might be risky to upload. It would not be any more difficult than posting on Facebook, and a lot safer, and they should make it clear they do not want to see them online. Posting your entire life on the internet is like knowingly leaving your front door open day and night and inviting the whole world into your home.