As the time to give birth gets closer, and as I’m blogging more, I find myself thinking a lot about baby’s privacy. What information, exactly, will we share online?
Baby cannot consent to having pictures posted. She doesn’t understand what it means to have personal details be posted online. As her parents, we have to make these decisions for her. Responsibly.
We are a generation navigating new issues.
I grew up being told never to use your real full name online. Every other person in the world, behind their computer screen, is clearly a lying predator. Well, I’ve been on various online forums since I was 12, and obviously I know that’s not true.
Oh, in retrospect, I’ve encountered some very dodgy people. But I’ve also made a lot of really good friends online. I’ve met plenty of them. Even though we’re scattered across the world, I’m better friends with some of my “imaginary” friends than I am with people in real life!
But even so, this move from never tell anyone everything and anonymity is king to always use your full name everywhere and share everything is weird to me.
The cynical part of me says it’s encouraged mostly by people who can benefit from it. If all of your online accounts are linked, advertising to you becomes much easier, for example.
I have a fairly common first name and one of the most popular surnames. I’m hard to find if you only know my first and last name! It makes me wonder if we should try and protect baby’s privacy a bit by selecting a popular name. (No, we’ve still not decided on a name! Yes, I am still stressing about it!)
But, if you look back through my Twitter account far enough, you can probably find out a fair bit of information about me. The town I live in, more or less what job I do, places I’ve been… add in Instagram as well and you could probably find out some more. If you have me on Facebook, you could get a lot more – what vets we go to, various weddings we’ve been at, etc.
How will we deal with baby’s privacy on the blog?
No last names, for a start. Yes, I know I’ve just talked about how great and anonymous our surname is, but I’m still not going to share it here. It’s not even on my Twitter account. I’m just Lucy over there.
I haven’t yet decided what to do about the first name and any middles. My first instinct is to say that I’ll share them once, maybe in an image. And after that, I’ll probably use a nickname. We call her Shroody for now, and that works fine for me!
I don’t want her name to be easily Google-able. I’ve spoken before about blogging secretly vs telling everyone I know about my blog, and I don’t think I want people to be able to Google a full name and come to a birth announcement page.
Photos? Probably there will be some. (Who am I kidding, I love photography. I will take millions!) What there will not be are photos of potty training, bath time or other very private moments. Seeing those splashed all over the internet really does worry me.
There will also be no photos posted online outside “Local Town School, Any Road”, holding up a sign with her full name and the date she’s started school. Those are a great private keepsake, but not so good if you don’t know who exactly is seeing them. Seems like a great way to get kidnapped!
And there will definitely be no photos of other people’s children, unless I have express permission. No way will I violate anyone else’s baby’s privacy.
I also won’t be sharing baby’s date of birth. This sounds a bit silly, but if you went back through my Twitter account far enough, I’m sure you could find hints of my maiden name. A combination of mother’s maiden name, full name, town born, date of birth… you’ve got quite a bit of information there to go rogue with.
I don’t know if any of this will make a difference.
What will we teach her about protecting her own privacy?
Honestly, I have no idea. I know that technology will have moved on even more by the time she’s three, four, five, at school, able to access the internet herself… and I don’t know what to do about that! I don’t know what technology will be available to her, or where she’ll be able to access it.
You can’t plan ahead without knowing what you have to plan for.
If I were talking to her now, as a child old enough to type and access social media, I’d probably say:
- Don’t use your full name. Call yourself First Middle, maybe.
- Don’t tell anyone where we live.
- Don’t post pictures of yourself or your friends. Even when you do start doing this, you absolutely must be fully dressed in every picture. Seriously, no sexting.
- Only add people online that you know.
- Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/whatever else you use should be kept private.
- You’re not having a computer in your room yet. I don’t know at what age that will be allowed, but I prefer to be able to wander through the living room or dining room and see what’s going on.
- If anyone says anything to you that makes you uncomfortable, block them. You don’t have to worry about offending them.
- If anything makes you uncomfortable or you feel you’re in something over your head, talk to me or your dad. Honesty is always the best policy with us. We will help you.
But this is 2017. I don’t know how things will be in 2027. It’s going to be a constantly evolving process, isn’t it?
Do I sound a bit paranoid in this post? I don’t think I am. It’s just that technology has moved on so fast, and I know I made mistakes as a young teen navigating it. I was very lucky and none of them had lifelong repercussions. I don’t want my little one to make bigger, potentially further-reaching, mistakes. Especially not before she’s old enough to make informed decisions.