A couple years before I had a kid of my own, I saw Joanna Stern’s video about protecting your child’s privacy by refraining from sharing identifiable photos on social media. To have your photo publicly available on the internet—especially when explicitly identified as you—comes with all kinds of ramifications that warrant consideration, and I’ve come to believe that respecting someone’s right to privacy means getting clear consent before sharing a photo of them online. A young child is simply unable to comprehend the situation or give that consent.
So when Megan and I were expecting and we began thinking about how we would handle baby photos, I showed her this newly-relevant video. We agreed we wanted to keep photos of our daughter in which her face is clearly visible off the public web, at least until she is old enough to understand and agree to having her photo shared. Sharing photos with family and friends has been via group messages, emails, or a shared photo album on iCloud. Any photo I’ve shared of my daughter here (or on social sites like Glass) has had her face partially or completely obscured.
At the outset of this blog I also briefly wondered about openly naming her on a public website. At the time I decided it was probably alright—your name being on the web doesn’t come with as much baggage as photos. Many people I follow (with much larger audiences than mine) who are careful about photos of their kids readily refer to them by name on podcasts, blogs, or social media. But there are still others who go further and stick to initials or nicknames (like “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”) for their kids. Arguably, their right to privacy and consent extends even to keeping their name from being available and readily searchable on the internet. That thought has continued to turn over in my head since starting this blog, so I’ve decided to follow through on it and scrub my daughter’s name from the site. I’d used her first initial, “V”, in some posts, particularly ones documenting brief conversations; now I’ve replaced all instances of her full first name with that initial.
Maybe someday, she’ll want to have a prolific online presence, with her name, image, and/or voice all over the internet—but that’s for her to decide, not me.