Friday, January 11, 2008

Privacy & Safety

I post my children's photos on the internet. That's them, up there in the header. I do have my personal rules on what sort of photos I post & how much information I give out. They must be clothed, or at least have actual pants on.  They must wear no identifying clothing, like school logos. They must have no identifying landmarks in the background, unless it is a vacation. The photo file name must be neutral, like H086856.jpg. Mostly though, they have to not mind their photos being posted. They are too young right now to understand privacy. They *like* seeing their photos posted. They ask me to put their photos in posts. Someday they may change their minds about this and ask me to stop. I will honor those requests when they come. Until then though, it is my choice.

I had a creepy experience 3 years ago when I had a personal website that I used to keep my family informed of my kid's development & latest photos. I had a photo of Mayhem up that was absolutely adorable. It was an after bath photo. He was doing the gorilla sit thing young babies do & had a towel over his lap & he was grinning so big at the camera. I stupidly had the word 'bath' in the photo. I happened to check my site meter about a month after adding that photo to the gallery & discovered a huge number of hits & links to that photo. From ki.dd.y po.rn sites. Even now I feel sick my stomach about that. I took the photo down, I secured the remaining photos, passworded everything, changed all the names to neutral numbers etc.  Every month web crawlers from those sites came searching for that photo, for months I'd get reports of hacking attempts to get that photo. Which on the one hand relieved me. If they are searching for it, they don't have it. It also made me furious. We changed ISPs & I lost the site because our new one didn't offer it, so I moved to a blog.

But I didn't let the perverts keep me from sharing things with my family & friends. I just have rules for how I go about. I am a digi scrapper. I have  galleries full of layouts I have done. I post some here. But I stick to those rules I mentioned at the beginning. I am also careful how much info I give out about myself on forums. I don't say where I am from. I don't participate in those memes that go around asking you your favorite color, your first pet's name & the name of the street you grew up on etc. Or if I do, I change things. My kids are not actually named Havoc & Mayhem, nor are their initials DS.  Stacey is my nickname. My friend's names are not Mel & Pixie.

There seemed to be for awhile and anything goes personal approach to the internet. Especially with social networking sites & young people. Then a few years later these people realized that potential employers were looking at their MySpace page & perhaps those photos of you topless at the beach or doing beer bongs were giving the wrong impression. Parents went through the same stages, only with children's photos & per.ver.ts. You have to decided for yourself what you are comfortable sharing with the world. Because even behind a firewall, even password protected, the world can still find it if they really want to. I am comfortable sharing clothed photos of my children. They are comfortable with it also, as far as they understand the subject.  But the day they ask me to stop, then the photos all come down.

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