There. I said it. The elephant in the room has been addressed. No, it doesn’t matter if you’re that child’s grandma, grandpa, aunt, cousin, uncle, best friend’s mom, or the neighbor down the street … if you don’t have permission from the child’s parents to post that specific picture (yes, I’m going a bit extra here and asking for each individual picture of a child that you do not have custody/guardianship/grew from your loins, you should ask that child’s parents’ permission), you DO NOT POST IT.
“But, the child’s mom has him posted all over her Facebook, not to mention her Instagram! If she didn’t want me to repost that picture, she shouldn’t have shared it.”
Here’s the thing. I am a mom of three young children. I’m pretty active on social media. I post a lot of photos and stories of my own children. But you want to know the difference? I know who’s on my social media. I control not only who’s on my friends list, but what my friends can share to what audiences. If Grandma Sue jacks my child’s photo and reposts it on her page, suddenly I no longer have any control over who has access to my child’s photo. I don’t know who’s on Grandma Sue’s Facebook. I don’t know who Grandma Sue actually knows on her Facebook. I don’t even know what Grandma Sue’s privacy restrictions are.
The world is a dangerous, hard place. Sure, you might be the Auntie and think, “Mama bear is being overbearing! Of course I know who’s on my Facebook, I’d never let anyone like that on my page!” That’s still not for you to determine. Sure, you might think that Billy Bob who lives down the street is such a nice guy and you’ve known him since you were kids; he’s just a sweet old man. But how many sweet old men do we see end up in newspapers? How many neighbors do you see interviewed that never suspected a thing? And you might think that that Steve that you met in college is such an upstanding citizen — you’ve not talked in 15 years, but he has kids of his own. Do you really know Steve enough to trust him with intellectual property of a child that isn’t yours? Of course not.
Sure, Grandpa might be in complete shock right now. Why, he’d never put his grandkids in danger. And that silly, silly Mama Bear … she’s not wanting to protect those kids. Look at her own Facebook! She posts their pictures often! She’s just wanting to punish poor Grandpa. So of course he’s gonna be a proud grandpa and post a picture of little Cindy’s kindergarten graduation pictures, complete with her whole name and how proud he is that Cindy’s going to “SPECIFIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL on MAIN STREET” next year to be a first grader. What is the harm in that?
But Grandpa forgot he likes to play online poker and added Tim, a complete stranger other than his poker rooms. Does he know Tim? Nope. Does he know why Tim plays poker online? Nope. But if Tim has ulterior motives, he now knows the whole name, age, and location of a child that he also has a photo of, as well as a pretty darn good idea where she goes to school and even what grade she’s in. In this day and age of sex trafficking, why on earth would you hand such valuable information over to a complete stranger? Better yet, why on earth would you hand over such valuable information about someone else’s child over to a complete stranger?
All those words to say: don’t post pictures of other folks’ kids without their permission. No, not even in secret “Grandparents Rights” or “Best Aunt of the Year” groups. You never know who can get their hands on those photos, and Mom and Dad are not being mean by asking you to please ask before posting, or don’t post at all. They’re protecting their children.
And quite frankly, if you REALLY loved those children as much as you claim to … you’d want to protect them, too.