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Protect the Online Information For Your Children

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It is time to seriously consider the risk that we all face from online fraud and personal identity theft. One option is eliminating or minimizing personal information from the Internet. This can deter an individual with malicious intent from obtaining valuable information and causing monetary loss.   

Personal data is easily accessible

Remember that Facebook data visible may extend beyond the content that is visible on ANY profile.  There is often additional personal information leaking into other areas of the network. Each time a user “likes” or comments on content posted within a profile, Facebook indexes, and archives the information.  There are several data mining sites collecting everything posted on Facebook including comments, photos, and friends.  A user can post a photo and tag the individual in the image identifying the individual by name and linking the viewer directly to the Facebook profile. 

Don’t forget the potential for improper use of your children’s photos

A new trend on social media, called “baby-role playing” involves users posting a photo of a baby or child found online and pretending the photo is their child. Some users create entire fictional families, purporting to be the parent of a child or childre. Instagram users will usually post a photo of a child with his or her false information, indicating the child is available for adoption.

Innocent family photos may be copied from blogs, social media accounts, or other photo-sharing sites and Photoshopped to attract view of pedophiles. Occasionally, the original photos are not edited but are posted with other inappropriate content.

Photos may be viewed, downloaded, modified and uploaded elsewhere by other individuals. Photos of children may also be used for advertising. The unauthorized use of the personal photograph, displayed on the internet of children may be used to create a fictitious profile on a teen site with the intention of creating a personal liaison for a variety of intentions.

On line photos make your children more vulnerable

Further, when photos are shared online of children, these photos are frequently accompanied by personal information, including the full name of the child, birth date, and geographical location. This information may be used to commit identity theft.

Lastly, photographs of children may expose them to bullying and intimidation. If distributed to online forums and websites as a joke, it may cause substantial emotional trauma for a child. Future consent should be considered when posting photographs of children on social media.

How can you protect your children’s identity?

  • Consider removing all postings involving photos of the children. Even if the profiles are locked down, no privacy setting will prevent others from uploading pictures of the family. 
  • Create a digital trust fund. Search for the children’s names through an array of the domain and keyword searches, checking for similar names or other harmful content. Maintain digital ownership of the names by registering URL, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram accounts, all linked to a single email address.
  • Watermark the photographs.  Placing a watermark on the photos can help indicate images were stolen. It also discourages individuals from using the photos as it is more difficult to remove a watermark.
  • Do not share a location - Never post a picture of a child that identifies a location. Turn off location settings on the phone and do not post pictures that would help to identify where the children reside.
  • Post low-resolution photos - Posting lower-resolution versions of the photos makes it hard for an individual to enlarge and print the pictures, which renders it unusable advertisements.
  • Be selective about the photos shared.   Photos of children are much less likely to be used if they include other individuals, or the child is not looking straight into the camera, and the children are fully clothed.

Being careful and vigilant is always a solid defense!

Kim MIller, Sobel & Co.