Do you ever give much thought to the information you share online, be it via twitter, Instagram, Facebook or blogs?
It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I tend to go through phases where I purge my Facebook photos and history and it’s getting to that time when I’m thinking I might clear it all.
I’m pretty careful about who I am ‘friends’ with on Facebook, it is really only people I actually know, but I am also cautious about the pictures I share, especially those of the children. I find it really unsettling that there are people who have blocked my Facebook profile or ‘unfriended’ me yet they have shared images of my children, that I cannot see. I find that disconcerting. When I share pictures of other people or their children I make sure they are tagged into the image and will always remove if they’re not happy about it.
I have seen a recent rise in people having their children’s images stolen and I find that a scary prospect. A high profile one in the blogger community was a parenting website using images of children in a pushchair that they claimed was unsafe. They used the images that included those of the children in a very negative campaign which suggested some pretty terrible things about those parents using the pushchairs. These were images lifted from Instagram profiles and blog pages. There was a lot of very heated discussion between bloggers and the company involved.
I know of Instagram users who have had their images stolen and used by others on their Instagram accounts; passing off work as their own or, worse, images of their children. This seems to be on the rise at the moment.
I try to be quite careful about the images I share of Mr D and Miss E, and have, in more recent posts changed how I refer to the children. I’m contemplating going back and editing posts to remove their names and remove images of them where you can see their face. I try to show images of them that doesn’t show their faces – I don’t want to ever be browsing the web and see my images being used elsewhere.
I’ve also heard stories of bloggers who have been out with their families only to be approached by someone who reads their blog; it can be easy to forget that readers can often feel like they ‘know’ a blogger through the words that they write and the things that they choose to share. And it is important to note that it is those things that WE choose to share. It isn’t always a true portrayal of our everyday life. It is an edited version; a version that is engaging and draws in the reader.
As mentioned earlier, I have real issue with people putting images of my children on Facebook; especially when they’re chosen to remove my own profile. My Voucher Codes ran a survey recently which suggested that as many as 23% of social media users had had their images stolen. That is a scary figure. One that is making me much more cautious about the way that I write about the children and the pictures that I share. My Instagram account is set to private and I think twice about the images I share via twitter and Facebook. Having other people share images of my children and I means that it is out of my control who can see their images on Facebook; are they as careful as I am about who they ‘friend’?
Catfishing, identity theft and fraud are certainly on the rise as we become a generation of ‘sharers’ – made all too easy by smart phones that can share an image across multiple platforms with thousands of people in seconds.
The full report including examples of bloggers and social media users how have been victims of this can be found here at TechLounge.
I find it a scary prospect, and something that has been right at the forefront of my mind in recent months. How do you feel about protecting your online identity?