Why Sharing Photos of Children on the Internet Has Many Risks

What conflicts and problems at the legal level involves sharing photographs of your children on the Internet or social networks? This article analyzes the situation, the protection of minors and the measures to be taken by their parents.

This apparent need that we live to document everything, which even causes us to stop experiencing the moments to capture them with the cameras of our smartphones, is not something so new. What happens is that technology has undoubtedly facilitated everything.

Perpetuate childhood through networks

When one becomes a father, the first emotional anguish that appears, especially due to the influence of the environment, is that, as “that wonderful thing does not last long”, we must perpetuate it forever, so we begin to photograph each of the moments of the Little infant: the first cry, the first poop, the first bath, photo with the grandmother, with the aunt, with the tata, in the crib, in the car, on top of dad ...

Who does not remember at home that old video camera that later delighted on Sundays as a family playing the baby's cute? And the following years, the thing did not slow down much; in each room it was common to see volumes and volumes of the classic photo albums decorating the shelves. Something that, whenever there was a visit at home, ended up being the culmination of the afternoon ... It was, we could call it, "analog sharenting".

Thirty or forty years later, what has happened is that family or friends no longer always come home, but we find them on Facebook or Instagram, so, so they can see how beautiful our children are, We upload all the photos to our networks, one after another, as if it were a documentary.

This, which many see as something completely natural, has already received a name as another phenomenon of the digital era: sharenting - sharing (sharing) + parenting (parenting) -, the publication by parents of photos of their children in social networks.

When the term began to be used

The term began using the American newspaper The Wall Street Journal in 2003, but this trend began to grow among families so exponentially that in 2016 the British Collins Dictionary included it together with Brexit as words of the year.

The same year was the first study on the phenomenon, "Sharenting, the privacy of children in the era of social networks", in which the American lawyer Stacey Steinberg already saw a direct relationship between the freedom to publish any content by of parents on the internet and their lack of freedom in the decision to do so.

From babies to teenagers

Every time we open the networks it is more common to see how newsfeed is flooded with minors, from newborns to teenagers who already have a hard time smiling at the photo for mom, in endless sets.

This has caused a growing concern among many professionals, psychologists, technologists, specialists in telematic crimes or family lawyers, who see that, beyond the innocent act of sharing the happiest moments of our children with our loved ones, you can hide a commercial purpose by monetizing every like in publications with a brand or, simply, that, due to the great ignorance that some families have about the digital world, put at risk the security and privacy of their children.
And what are these risks?

Undoubtedly, the first of all, and more serious, is the ease with which a pedophile or a pedophile could access our son's picture, download it from our profile and use it for any illegal purpose (child pornography).

For this reason, you should never upload photographs of children who go out without clothes, although they may seem harmless and familiar to us by being in the pool or on the beach, since we can never know where that content can end.

Another is the harassment to which the child can be subjected, especially in adolescent age, by their own partners, when they see certain photographs published by their parents, what we know by bullying, or in the event that, in addition, that harassment will continue Through the network, cyberbullying.

Usurpation of the child's identity

We document the new life of a child practically since he is in the mother's womb, publishing the photo of the birth with all the data, name of the baby, place of birth, weight, etc. So, over time, anyone could impersonate the child's identity on the network, creating a profile using the child's name and photographs, to usurp his identity, and thereby raising the risk of committing scams, frauds , hacks, robberies and numerous cybercrimes on behalf of the child.

As the journalist and expert in Computer Security explains in book Cybersecurity. Tips to have safer digital lives, in the case of impersonation, if someone opens a profile with the name, photograph and personal data of the child, the usurpation of identity would occur, punishable by article 401 of the Criminal Code with up to 3 years of jail.

We also upload photographs of his first day of school, proud and happy to capture that moment, but we do not stop to think that we are informing strangers, possible perverts or criminals among them, of the school our son goes to, and therefore the address and the schedules you have ...

But if we go further, do we know what children think about it? Do we ask them if they agree to publish those photographs? Do you not have the right to decide? What damage can cause them in future to see their whole life published on Facebook?

Children are protected by law.

The first thing we have to keep in mind is that children are people and, as such, rights holders, such as the one in the image itself, enshrined in article 18.1 of the Constitution.

Therefore, the decision to upload a photo of the children in a social network belongs to the sphere of parental rights. And it is we, the parents, within this obligatory, inalienable, imprescriptible and non-transferable duty, who are obliged to ensure the safety and well-being of our children.

Each child is totally different and, therefore, we do not know how he can assume this fact. For some it will be gratifying to be able to have a digital album of their entire childhood and see how family and closest friends were living, but for others, perhaps the most withdrawn or shy, it could be serious problems of self-esteem that over exposure.

As we know, they still could not rely on Google's Right to Forget 100% to eliminate any trace that their parents had left in the past that could harm them in adulthood, for example in order to get a job, a romantic relationship or Any other personal situation. It is your fingerprint that is at stake.

When the parents are separated

The first thing we can find is that the parents are separated or divorced and it is one of the parties, usually the custodian of the minor, who makes the indiscriminate publication of photos on social networks.

We have recently experienced a public case with these circumstances, and given the facts reported, as Delia Rodriguez, family lawyer and founder of the Vestalia Associates Law Firm, informs us, the High Court has declared that if one of the parents wants to publish photos of the Children in common in their social networks and the other opposes, must request judicial authorization through a voluntary jurisdiction procedure. In addition, the ex-spouse may request, by court, that all photographs of the minor published on social networks be deleted.

This lawsuit would last until the child turns 14, since from that age, it is he, and not his parents, who must give his approval for his images to be published.

Another fashion is that of mothers influencers (it is given less the father profile influencer), that not famous or public figures, that instead of having private profiles in social networks turn all their activity, including photos of their children, in public fanpages, which are indexed by search engines.

And now comes the dilemma that could happen: What if a children's clothing brand took one of those photos found through a search engine and used it to illustrate a shirt from the next fall / winter collection? Would it be legal? What if we found it in a blog about family? What could we do about it?

We would have to see if there has been a criminal or commercial purpose in the context in which the images have been used to take criminal or civil actions, in less serious cases, for violation of the Right to the Image of minors and to Intimacy.

Recommendations for parents

What measures should we take if we decide to share images of our children on the Internet?

For all that has been said, we leave some recommendations for all those parents who want to protect the privacy of their children:

  1. It is essential that we always check the privacy settings of the platforms where we are active and make sure what data we are making public about our children or if we are sharing them only with family and friends.
  2. Therefore, it is recommended that we configure our profile so that in networks such as Facebook the option to limit what your contacts see is activated.
  3. We should also deactivate the location and geolocation functions when sharing images and not giving too much information about the child's private life, especially if we do not know for sure who can see or use that data.
  4. Occasionally monitor search engines, what they call egosurfing, but not only focused on us, but to track anything (photos or videos) that may have been published especially by our children on the internet (social networks, forums, blogs, chats, etc.)
  5. And if we really want to protect your identity and maintain your privacy, even if we are uploading a family photograph to social networks, the option is to try to ensure that minors do not see their faces or seek let them go backwards ...