08 Apr 2020

What are the legal risks for parents who post images of their children on social media

As our lives become more isolated and the amount of time we spend on social media is soaring, we start quickly to run out of original things to post. Thank God, though, that there are children in this world. No matter where you put them, they will always come up with something funny, creative and entertaining. In fact, the younger the child the better. More fun, less resentment.

Most parents’ mobile phones have thousands of images of their children stored. But what’s the point in keeping all those amazing images to yourself?

In most parents’ social media accounts, you are likely to find 10 times more images of their children than of themselves and this tells you something about the value of young children to parents who are bored of their heads.

Parents can be taken to court for posting images of their children on social media

A couple of years ago, French parents have been warned to stop posting images of their children immediately. The government told them that their offspring later on as adults could sue them for breaching their right to privacy. There were also concerns about the children’s safety and security as a result of parents posting their images online, so the French police issued their own warning to the parents.

This prompted the then Facebook Vice President, Jay Parikh, to issue a statement saying that Facebook was considering setting up a system to notify parents who put photographs of children online without restricting their privacy settings. This hasn’t happened yet and Jay Parikah had stepped down in the meantime.

What is the European law about children’s right to their own image

Since 2012, every European citizen has a right to the protection of their own image. This includes children.

A person’s image constitutes one of the chief attributes of his or her personality. It reveals the person’s unique characteristics and distinguishes the person from his or her peers.

It follows that the right to the protection of one’s image is one of the essential components of personal development. This right to own your own image presupposes the individual’s right to control the use of his or her image. And children are individuals.

What does the law of nature say about the children’s right to own their image

The law of nature is far more powerful than the law of the land. It cannot be easily changed and can hardly be contested or repealed.

More often than not, when they post images of their young children on social media, parents don’t give any thought as to how their child might view their action in 5 or 10- or 15-years’ time.

Many parents post their children’s images, tag them and move on without giving a second thought as to how this might affect the child later on in their life. Remember, the images you post on Facebook might not just remain on Facebook, they might be copied, downloaded and then uploaded by strangers to other websites and used for all purposes.

I hear more and more about children developing resentment towards their parents who posted images of them on social media. Some teenagers who go through the usual self-image questioning, uncertainties and confidence issues that teens go through a this age, find the idea that it was their own parents who posted hundreds of embarrassing images of them to the world, confusing and in some cases highly resentful. Some teenagers view their parents’ action as selfish and self-serving.

Being a teenage is a confusing place to be anyway. This seems to just be making things so much worst.

A warning to parents who posts their children’s images to the internet

Parents all across Europe could be taken to court by their own children for breaching their privacy by posting their photos irresponsibly. When this happens, the parent will need to be able to justify what they posted, whey they posted it and how perhaps also demonstrate how their child’s best interest was served by those constant postings of the child’s images.

Perhaps, however, a more serious issue than the legal risk of being sued by their children is how parents’ postings of their child images would impact on their future relationship with the child. How do you ever explain to your child that your posting of their images on the internet was in their best interest?

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