Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Parents - think before you post kids’ pics:

An innocent photo of a toddler prompted Instagram to delete the mum’s account. Kate Whiting ponders the etiquette of uploading for parents.
By Kate Whiting
Date: July 10 2014
Editor Rating:

We’ve all got Facebook friends who announce their pregnancy openly with the de rigueur shot of the little foetus curled up like a baked bean in their belly.                                                                                

The posting of the baby’s first picture on the social network is as much a part of the birthing routine as gas and air and swearing at the father. Some of you may even have friends who share pics of them breastfeeding their newborns.

Once the little one is back home, their accounts then become a photographic shrine to little Johnny as the child’s whole life is played out online by proud parents. But is it right that we do all this, without our children’s consent?

Courtney Adamo was filled with pride when she posted the now-famous image of her 19-month-old daughter Marlow on Instagram earlier this week. The potty-training toddler, clad in bright yellow wellies, had pulled her dress up to proudly show off her ‘big girl’ knickers.

Not long after the picture was posted, Adamo’s account (along with all her lovingly shared family photos) was deleted for apparently flouting Instagram’s Terms of Use. See the picture here.

According to the terms and conditions of the social networking site, users are not allowed to “post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service”.

Yes, Marlow was partially nude, but the image was definitely not sexually suggestive.

There are nipples, and then there are nipples. As Adamo said of her account, “it's a tasteful feed with innocent family photos”. The story went viral and the outcry it sparked forced Instagram to reinstate Adamo’s account and issue an explanation of its actions.

“We try hard to find a good balance between allowing people to express themselves creatively and having policies in place to protect young children,” a statement read.

“This is one reason why our guidelines put limitations on nudity, but we recognise that we don't always get it right. In this case, we made a mistake and have since restored the account.”

And here’s the moral conundrum Instagram and every other social media site is facing – the image is not ‘sexually suggestive’ to any ‘normal’ human being, but what about for a paedophile?

Is it right for a social network to step in and ‘protect’ parents and their children even though, we all hope, we’re managing our privacy settings well enough to do that ourselves?

For every 10 Facebook friends of mine who readily share pictures of their children in whatever cute scenario they’re in that day, there’s at least one who has decided not to put any photos of their children anywhere online or at least to only share them in a private group among close friends and have asked those friends to kindly abide by their wishes.

Paedophiles, after all, don’t go around with signs on their heads and, God forbid, imagine if one of your old school acquaintances who you innocently ‘friended’ was amongst them?

The other issue at stake here is whether, by posting images of them, you are invading your own children’s privacy. My generation is the first to be able to choose how much we share of ourselves online and we’re making that choice on behalf of our children too.

I’m still a little embarrassed today about certain photos of me as a child showing off the tan-line on my bare bum, but at least they’re hidden away in an album somewhere and not plastered across the internet.

I’m not saying Adamo or the millions of mums like her are in the wrong, and I was glad when, in a victory for the celebrity-led #freethenipple campaign, Facebook recently lifted its ban on breastfeeding pictures that just happen to show a nipple.

But as parents, we have a very real responsibility to protect our children from paedophiles, school bullies, the whims of future employers and even from myriad other repercussions of this pioneering era of technology which we can’t possibly predict.

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