Is It OK to Post Photos of Other People’s Kids on Facebook?

I need your opinion, friends. Is it OK to post a Facebook photo of your kid, or of you and your kid, if other kids are in the background of the photo? I’m thinking ahead to 8th grade promotion and I’m not sure where to draw the line.

The same question would apply to posting team sports photos, etc. I see people doing it a lot, but I wouldn’t want to upset other parents. If it’s a case where I know the parents, I can just ask, of course. But what about a graduation photo with kids in the background whom you don’t even know?

I’m sure a lot of us have the same concern, so it seems like a good topic to talk about here. What do you think?

Thanks for your comments!

P.S. Here’s Matt at his preschool “graduation” with his wonderful teacher, Miss Amanda.

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15 Responses to “Is It OK to Post Photos of Other People’s Kids on Facebook?”

  1. Jill says:

    I’ve been wondering this myself. I had a cute pic of myself and some of my former students from a trip I chaperoned yesterday that I wanted to post on FB, but didn’t because I wasn’t sure (I know that at a camp I work at we get photography release to use photos of kids). I have another photo of kids that I did post, but I made sure it was one where you can’t see their faces. I have super tight filters on my FB page (for example, only my friends can see my photos), but am still apprehensive of posting a photo of a minor unless I know the family real well. With respect to my blog, I get verbal permission from parents before posting photos there. I guess I’ve always erred on the side of caution, but I’d love to hear what other people say :)

  2. Liz Seegert says:

    This struck a chord, both as a health writer who sometimes photographs in a hospital and as a leader in my son’s Boy Scout Troop. My advice is that if it is a publicly accessible web site, and the kids’ faces are recognizable, play it safe & don’t post.

    When I did the newsletter for my son’s elementary school, we asked every parent to sign a photo release form – and several would not. I had to go through class photos each time and eliminate ones of those kids, but it was the right thing to do.

    On the other hand, if (in this case) the school has a release to post the photo on their web site, (did you sign anything?) then it’s probably OK. I don’t post anything with kids without a release; our Scout troop has a closed group on yahoo but even so, I always let new families know & secure their permission first.

    When it comes to kids, you never know what underlying issues might exist. I always lean towards playing it safe.

  3. Michele says:

    I’ve thought about this and am very careful about posting minors since at school, there are students that who are removed from the taking of class photos because their parents don’t want their photos released. Personally, I have only posted a couple of children whose parent’s I know well and ask first or photos where you really can’t see the other children’s faces. I do have privacy settings for only those who I want to see my photos as I know when others comment on photos it can be seen in other’s news feeds who I may not know at all.

    As for others posting photos of my children, I’m OK with it if I know them well and trust their privacy settings. Anyone can download photos they see on facebook, so I am cautious of the pictures posted of my children. If it’s a group team or graduation type of photo with several children, I’m good with it being posted. It would be great if facebook had reasonable rules established that were required to follow for posting pictures of minors.

  4. Joscie says:

    In general if I haven’t asked permission of the parents, I use PhotoShop to blur out their faces. But thinking further, I realize I’ve only done this with children whose parents I know. like ones from church or school or friends. But if we were at a public place like the museum or zoo, I didn’t hesitate to just use the photo as is.

  5. Josie, I hadn’t thought about using Photoshop this way. What’s the easiest way to do this? Would you mind sharing that on the blog? I didn’t even think about that! Great solution.

  6. Jill, Liz and Michele, thanks for the thoughtful comments. There is a lot to consider here. I started a FB thread about this and I’ve encouraged everyone to share there thoughts here, too, so more can see them. Opinions range from “I’d never do it” to “why worry about it?” Interesting!

  7. Allison says:

    This is exactly what we talk about in our seminars for Parent’s about social media - we tell parents not to put pics of or info about their children (even their names) on sites due to the way sexual predators find, stalk and then use the info to interact with the children. Speaking with ICAC and LAPD a lot about this has shown that even a pic of your child in a school uniform gives a sexual predator enough information to find them in the real world. It’s scary but true. Please be careful about the amount of info you put out there. The biggest thing is to talk to your children about it! Know what sites your kids are on and know passwords. They can block you or hide certain things from you with settings but you need to be seeing what they are doing online so you can teach them about the ramifications of what they do - now and in the future.

  8. Donna says:

    While I would never post a photo of another child on my blog - and only post to Flickr with privacy settings high - Facebook is another matter, because at this age, these kids are all posting photos of each other anyway. So I think it depends on how well you know the kids and how well you know the parents.

    As for the sexual predator issue - as parents, we should already be issuing rules for safe social networking and monitoring who our kids are interacting with. I think people are more afraid of cyberstalking than is warranted. It’s an over-reaction to new technology that makes people uncomfortable. Yes, sexual predators are online, but they’re at the mall, too. We need to instill common sense practices in our kids, just as we warn them not to talk to strangers on the street.

  9. Joscie says:

    You can use photoshop to blur out information you’d like to keep private (like school names, uniforms, kids you don’t have permission to post).
    First, open your picture in photoshop. Use a selection tool (I like the elliptical marquee tool- it looks like a dashed circle) to select the area you want blurred out. Then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur a menu will pop up. the higher the pixel radius, the blurrier it gets. ctrl-d to deselect the area. then you can resize and save for web for your sharing pleasure :)

  10. Donna, I’m with you on the use of photos on our blogs. The only time I use a photo of another child is if I’ve purchased the photo from iStock, and then the parents have signed a release, of course!

    Joscie, thanks for explaining how to do this. You have helped a lot of people today!

  11. Laura says:

    I only post on my fully protected private Facebook page, viewable only by my friends. Anything totally public, no.

  12. Shane says:

    My touchstone for things like this is to turn it around; in this case, would I be okay with someone else posting a picture of my kids without their asking me first?

    The answer to that is NO. No one is allowed to make decisions of any kind for or about my children but me. Period.

    Ninety-nine percent of the time, it wouldn’t be a big deal. The vast majority of people who would do this, or who would view the photos, mean no harm. Am I thus willing to relinquish my responbility to protect my children and just risk that remaining 1 percent?

    Hell no.

    If you have friends that would do so without consulting you, they aren’t friends.

    And folks, re: “websites with good privacy controls” — there’s no such thing as a “safe” website.

  13. Laura, I have to agree with Shane about there being no such thing as a “fully protected private Facebook page.” We’ve seen that recently with all the “sharing” being done by FB, and with all this new stuff being opt out, not opt in…

  14. Stephanie says:

    Such an interesting discussion! I think “large group” photos are generally okay to post, but I don’t think it is considerate to post smaller group or individual shots of other peoples’ kids without their permission. I certainly wouldn’t want photos of my girls posted anywhere online without my consent. Actually, I don’t like it when people post photos of ME on FB without my permission either. ;)

  15. Great comments here, folks. This post is getting attention on Twitter and people are stopping by because of the quality of the comments and the good discussion here. Great to get people talking about this. It’s an important issue. Thanks!