Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently sparked both outrage and concern after posting a Fourth of July family photo on Instagram. The photo shows him with his wife Priscilla Chan, and their three young daughters. What’s so weird about it, you may ask? Well, even Mark covers his children’s faces on his own platform that “cares for children’s safety.” Does this mean you should be concerned? Maybe start obscuring your kids’ faces too?
Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself and his family, congratulating the 4th of July to the Americans! “Lots to be grateful for this year,” he wrote. “As the big girls get older, I love talking to them about why America is so great. Looking forward to discussing with little Aurelia soon too.”
As you can see, baby Aurelia’s face is not covered. But her older sisters, Maxima and August, have their faces obscured by emojis. This made people enraged and concerned. I mean, if Zuck trusted his own social media apps so much, why would he hide his children’s faces?
“Even Zuck doesn’t trust his platforms to put his kids faces up,” one comment reads. “This man knows exactly why you should hide your kid’s faces on social media,” reads the other. “Why you cover your children’s faces if Instagram is safe?” another user wonders.
Some people wondered why the baby’s face wasn’t covered. “All babies look the same,” someone replied. In other words, babies’ faces are difficult to identify as they grow and change rapidly in the first year of their lives.
Some people seem downright mad at Zuckerberg and Meta:
“Funny you care about your children’s privacy but your company won’t do a damn thing to stop the hackers on your platforms including the person who hacked my fb and Instagram and now have everything there is to know about my children and what they look like and can use that information anywhere. This happens to thousands of people you offer no support. It’s a joke. You need to be better than that…. The people using your apps are the ones that made it this big. BE BETTER”
“You block your kids faces all the while your platform FB has explicit pornographic ads all over it yet my legitimate FB Marketplace ads are flagged and I have to prove I’m not a bot,” another comment reads. Perhaps you remember recent reports showing that Instagram’s algorithms were actively promoting child sex abuse.
Should you hide your children’s faces?
Without thinking too much about it, I’d say yes, and there are two major reasons for it.
Social media privacy and security
I know, your children are the cutest beings in the world and you want to show them to everyone. While I don’t have kids myself, I love my little nieces and nephews and my friends’ kids, and I love seeing their photos and videos. I think they’re all the cutest beings to ever exist!
However, it’s not just me and other close friends and family who might see those photos. While some parents are cautious about whom they let into their online space, many share their children’s photos and videos with tens of thousands of followers… And potentially with pedophiles lurking about fake accounts. Many parents go way overboard and share their kids’ naked photos at the beach or while taking a bath. I know they are cute; they really are… But this world is, sadly, a dangerous place.
Thinking of your children’s future
For us over 30, sharing photos and videos was when friends or family gathered around, and we would show them family albums or play a videotape on a VCR. I remember a particular situation when I was about 12-13 years old, and my dad showed a video of me as a toddler to a few family friends. In the video, I was peeing in the backyard, and he thought it was hilarious. I begged him not to play it, but he did, and they all laughed. I know they thought it was funny and adorable, but I felt so embarrassed! I rushed to my room and spent the rest of the night crying.
Fast forward 20 years, we share videos like this online for everyone to see. Sometimes it’s for a few hundred of our followers; sometimes, it’s for a few dozen “close friends.” Unfortunately, many times it’s for a bunch of strangers on the internet. And yes, at 35, I think it’s cute, adorable, and funny like my dad’s friends 20 years ago… But your kid won’t think that once they are teenagers.
As I said, I don’t have kids of my own, but most of my friends are parents, and I spend a lot of time with them and their children. Also, there are often children in my photos at concerts or protests. So I’ll share a few tips on how I hide their identities and how I generally act.
–Use an emoji/sticker: when I take a photo of a crowd, and there are children whose faces are clearly visible, I’ll just use a sticker like Mark Zuckerberg to cover their faces.
–Post different photos: when I take photos of my little friends and family members, I take a different approach. I’ll take their photo from behind, or capture details like their little hands interacting with the environment. This way, I can share their photos on social media and my Flickr account, yet keep their privacy.
–Ask parents for permission: generally speaking, no one can expect privacy in a public place, and you have the right to take and publish photos. But I personally think it’s not a nice move to just share identifiable photos of children on your socials as you please. When I shoot events, I ask parents if it’s okay to take photos of their kids. And if I post their photos to social media, they will be one of the two variants I described above.
After all, as one person commented on Zuckerberg’s post: “Honestly, if the creator of Facebook [is hiding his] kids faces in social media, you should probably take note.”