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Clix Pix

macrumors Core
Original poster
The Washington Post recently had an article reminding proud parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and whoever else that, yes, it is risky to post photos of minor children on the wide-open internet. Now along with the dangers most of us already knew about there is the added and rather nasty potential of AI and how it can be misused.....

The article provides information about how to try and remove photos of children from the internet/wide world web, but cautions that it is not always possible to totally eradicate them. Best to simply not post photos of the kid(s) in the first place. The article suggests that parents, grandparents and other relatives simply keep the photos private among the family in emails and such rather than sharing them on FB, Instagram or other public sites.

 

katbel

macrumors 68040
Aug 19, 2009
3,245
27,703
So true! It’s already our philosophy since a long time but a lot of people are not aware of the risks.
Thanks for sharing this!
 
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rm5

macrumors 68020
Mar 4, 2022
2,142
2,397
United States
The Washington Post recently had an article reminding proud parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and whoever else that, yes, it is risky to post photos of minor children on the wide-open internet. Now along with the dangers most of us already knew about there is the added and rather nasty potential of AI and how it can be misused.....

The article provides information about how to try and remove photos of children from the internet/wide world web, but cautions that it is not always possible to totally eradicate them. Best to simply not post photos of the kid(s) in the first place. The article suggests that parents, grandparents and other relatives simply keep the photos private among the family in emails and such rather than sharing them on FB, Instagram or other public sites.

What an interesting (and relatable) article, thanks for sharing! Actually, I'd argue that this extends to adults, too, which is why you still have to sign a release form if going on television, etc. Which is also why I'm very careful about posting pictures of myself online (if I do, it's for a professional purpose), or other people, without their explicit permission.
 

Clix Pix

macrumors Core
Original poster
Sorry, I forgot that this would likely be a paywalled article..... Too bad, as actually it contains valuable information which everyone with children (including pre-teens and teenagers) in a household should read. Thanks, Iwavvns for the interesting tip on how to still be able to read paywalled articles! I'll have to give that a try on those occasions when I run into this situation...

For those who regularly use their public library and have a library card, you can go to the library site and after entering your card/account number, then access one of their news databases, which usually include articles from major newspapers and periodicals, and you should be able to read the entire article for free there.
 

drrich2

macrumors regular
Jan 11, 2005
197
95
I was able to access it via Apple News +.

Interesting issue. It reminds me of the dilemma some parents face - do you let your kid 'free range' a bit (e.g.: play in the yard, bicycle in the neighborhood) or not...because a child molester might abduct him/her?

So the concern is some evil doer using A.I. to put your kid's facial likeness on something inappropriate. And it can be done with any age.

Hard to imagine large masses of people are going to quit posting to Facebook, etc..., over this.
 
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ovbacon

macrumors 68000
Feb 13, 2010
1,563
11,185
Tahoe, CA
At the risk of sounding smug, but not with that intend at all, I have never understood the need to post pictures of ones children. My kids are in their 20's and I can probably count the times I have posted a photo of them on both hands. Before AI made it very easy to create inappropriate images people were already doing it with Photoshop so I've always been a little paranoid with posting online.

On another note I would urge people to pay as much for news articles or subscribe to newspapers as that industry is very much in dire need.
 

drrich2

macrumors regular
Jan 11, 2005
197
95
At the risk of sounding smug, but not with that intend at all, I have never understood the need to post pictures of ones children.
It's not my cup of tea either, but many people enjoy sharing photos and posts on people and things they love and/or are proud of. It can be a way of celebrating special moments (e.g.: kid shown with a trophy), or just the day-to-day. It's also part of how people share and relate to friends and family.

Many people are involved in virtual social circles of friends and family, and social media like Facebook are the most efficient way to share without imposing. Unlike sending often unwanted e-mails that clog your inbox or texts that demand immediate attention, posting to your Facebook feed lets people who care and wish to do so check your posts at their leisure.

I'm a more private introvert so posting scads of 'look at my kid' photos isn't my thing, either, but most people have more extensive, albeit at times shallower social circles and find pleasure in sharing.

While posting photos online broadens potential access to the image, if the malefactors are often school peers odds are they can get their hands on a photo if they wish. While some schools ban smartphone use in the classroom, lots of kids have them, zoom functions are getting more powerful, and kids take pictures. As for strangers using a photo, disturbing as that would be, most people aren't markedly distinctive (so there may already be porn images online with faces like yours through coincidence) and most of us change in appearance as we grow up.

And if peers are a big part of the problem and A.I. only needs one photo, can't they just grab a copy of the schools' yearbook and snag your kid's photo off the class photos page, and maybe photos of extracurriculars your kid appears in?
 

Jumpthesnark

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2022
935
4,235
California
On another note I would urge people to pay as much for news articles or subscribe to newspapers as that industry is very much in dire need.

Agree 100%. The reporter who wrote that story deserves to be paid, as do the editors/designers/etc. And paying for quality journalism is the only way that it will continue.

Generally a reader sees a paywall only after they have read some stories from a publication - for example "this is the fourth article you have read on Rolling Stone this month, you have almost reached your limit of free articles." So it's a way of saying that if you like the journalism and content you see on a site, you should pay to make sure that it can continue. Some sites are different - the WSJ paywalls almost all of their content, regardless. That article was paywalled by default, but you could click through and read it for free if you gave the WaPo an email address.

I don't want to speak for how anyone else spends their money, or what their budget is, but the WaPo is currently running a sale - a year for $29. That's a bargain for how good that paper is, and quality information is especially valuable in an election year in the U.S.
 

ovbacon

macrumors 68000
Feb 13, 2010
1,563
11,185
Tahoe, CA
It's not my cup of tea either, but many people enjoy sharing photos and posts on people and things they love and/or are proud of. It can be a way of celebrating special moments (e.g.: kid shown with a trophy), or just the day-to-day. It's also part of how people share and relate to friends and family.

Many people are involved in virtual social circles of friends and family, and social media like Facebook are the most efficient way to share without imposing. Unlike sending often unwanted e-mails that clog your inbox or texts that demand immediate attention, posting to your Facebook feed lets people who care and wish to do so check your posts at their leisure.

I'm a more private introvert so posting scads of 'look at my kid' photos isn't my thing, either, but most people have more extensive, albeit at times shallower social circles and find pleasure in sharing.

While posting photos online broadens potential access to the image, if the malefactors are often school peers odds are they can get their hands on a photo if they wish. While some schools ban smartphone use in the classroom, lots of kids have them, zoom functions are getting more powerful, and kids take pictures. As for strangers using a photo, disturbing as that would be, most people aren't markedly distinctive (so there may already be porn images online with faces like yours through coincidence) and most of us change in appearance as we grow up.

And if peers are a big part of the problem and A.I. only needs one photo, can't they just grab a copy of the schools' yearbook and snag your kid's photo off the class photos page, and maybe photos of extracurriculars your kid appears in?

At first glance I wasn't going to respond as I do not want to get into discussions that get out of control or go very off topic but I think the subject is very important.

I might be completely misinterpreting what you meant but what worries me in your response is that it appears that you are implying that only kids peers are a problem and that the chances of a "stranger" using a photo are remote and/or that with everything that's already out there there wouldn't need to be a reason to take a photo of a particular child. I might be incorrect, but your post seems to kinda imply that there isn't a reason to be careful since someone that really wants to do harm would always be able to.

Your last line makes it look like this is only an issue in the USA (or countries that have yearbooks).

I think the amount of children and families that are being blackmailed with nude photos indicates that there is a real problem especially given that kids that are being blackmailed might choose suicide as a way out instead of going to the police/parents etc.

As for your explanation as to why people post photos I understand that my first remark was a little facetious but I think we all understand the reasons why people post things online.
 
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bunnspecial

macrumors G3
May 3, 2014
8,297
6,289
Kentucky
It's not my cup of tea either, but many people enjoy sharing photos and posts on people and things they love and/or are proud of. It can be a way of celebrating special moments (e.g.: kid shown with a trophy), or just the day-to-day. It's also part of how people share and relate to friends and family.

As a parent of an almost 1 year old, I see a few points of view on this.

For one thing, my wife and I are pretty conservative with openly sharing photos. Even on Facebook, where we both have our privacy settings pretty tight, there are maybe a half dozen photos of him-two from when he was born, one Christmas card photo, and then a few he was in(but not explicitly tagged) from when we went to the pumpkin patch with one of her friends.

We do share a lot of photos privately, though. We have shared albums with my parents and her parents(although the one with my parents is probably a bit more significant since here see us a few times a week normally and my parents once every couple of months) and text pictures to my sister and the like. We have other friends and family who get pictures by text or even for some older relatives I'll print and mail pictures periodically. I even share some privately on here with people I've known long enough that they are friends.

And yes, I have occasionally shared photos on here. One of the "ruts" for lack of a better term I've fallen into(not really but maybe apt) is that even though I've literally taken probably 10,000 photos in 2023, the vast majority have been pictures of people and children. I honestly have a pretty shallow catalog this year that doesn't involve those sort of subjects. It puts me in a tough spot because it's an area where I feel like I've really improved as a photographer this year, and also it's sometimes pertinent to a discussion as to how I've handled a particular situation, but I'm also super reluctant to post with as visible as it is.

Some of this is maybe an over-reaction to people my age-many of them high school and college friends-who seem to share every moment of their kids lives. On one hand, I do really enjoy seeing them-they're people I might not otherwise stay in touch with, and it can be fun to see other people's day-to-day lives and hear what funny or crazy things their kids have done. I also wonder too, though, if their kids will look back on that and regret that so much was shared about their childhood. In a sense it's not that different from when my mom pulls out a story about something I did as a toddler or whenever, but on the other hand there's a difference between a story told when prompted and something that's there in writing for anyone to see(and there are stories I've asked my mom-with mixed success-to just quit telling and kindly let me forget about them...). There are also photos I see that are not inherently shameful or bad, but are things that maybe cross the line of just too intimate and or special of a moment to necessarily share with the whole world. That's every person's own call to make, though. I have a new nephew on my wife's side of the family who is quite literally a week old and I sometimes feel as though they've already strayed into that territory, but there again not my decision to make.

At the same time, AI may make some of the things discussed in this article easier, but manipulated photos of people have been around nearly as long as photography itself, and since the early days of the internet "fake" sexualized or even nude photos of celebrities and others have circulated. There's no way to avoid having your photo taken unless you're covered head to toe every time you step out of the house...
 
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840quadra

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 1, 2005
9,253
5,966
Twin Cities Minnesota
Great article and great advice.

For my business, I am torn and put into a difficult spot. I work for a couple motorsports tracks which want tons of candid photos of riders and family activities around the facility. The sport itself typically has minors in full gear with full face helmets on so no issues during competition, but award podiums, candids, and pit area shots are always full exposure of faces and people's likeness.

On the flipside, I operate a decent sized social media account, with many customers, riders and people I have met following me. In that subset there are many, many kids. I am always advising customers who have kids on IG and Facebook to set their profiles to private (for similar reasons) and also advise against them ever posting photos at the beach, pool, waterpark or similar situations. Just too much room for all kinds of nasty people to do things there.

As others have stated, Image manipulation has existed effectively since Photography was invented. At the same time however, it has never been easier for a basic person (with the assistance of AI or automation) to do advanced edits and swaps of faces or whatever. Heck, even my Pixel 8 Pro can swap heads (of the same person) to do a "Best Take" with a couple presses of a button.
 
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SpotOnT

macrumors 6502a
Dec 7, 2016
820
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At first glance I wasn't going to respond as I do not want to get into discussions that get out of control or go very off topic but I think the subject is very important.

I might be completely misinterpreting what you meant but what worries me in your response is that it appears that you are implying that only kids peers are a problem and that the chances of a "stranger" using a photo are remote and/or that with everything that's already out there there wouldn't need to be a reason to take a photo of a particular child. I might be incorrect, but your post seems to kinda imply that there isn't a reason to be careful since someone that really wants to do harm would always be able to.

Your last line makes it look like this is only an issue in the USA (or countries that have yearbooks).

I think the amount of children and families that are being blackmailed with nude photos indicates that there is a real problem especially given that kids that are being blackmailed might choose suicide as a way out instead of going to the police/parents etc.

As for your explanation as to why people post photos I understand that my first remark was a little facetious but I think we all understand the reasons why people post things online.

As far as I know, most parents aren’t posting nude photos of their children online…
 
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SpotOnT

macrumors 6502a
Dec 7, 2016
820
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I actually disagreed with this article. It reminds of the fear mongering involved with “stranger danger”, which study after study have now shown to be bad advice.

I also think trying to erase kids from society - and like it or not, the digital space is a very much part of society today - will cause all sorts of even bigger problems.
 

SpotOnT

macrumors 6502a
Dec 7, 2016
820
1,589
Maybe read the article so you know what this thread is about.

People are conflating a lot of different things here (including in that article). There are multiple different issues at play: 1) what should parents post for public viewing online/allow their children to post for public viewing online 2) what children do with photos they take 3) children being scammed into sending nudes by professional extortionist.

These are three separate problems, with different solutions.

Your comment suggested that families should be careful what they post online, but then as example reference blackmailers. These blackmailers are not taking photos from facebook. They are entering fake relationships with children, often lasting months, before conning them to share nudes. What you post on facebook has no impact on being blackmailed for nudes.

Again these are three separate issues. The fact that many articles tend to conflate them, suggests fear mongering to me.
 
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SpotOnT

macrumors 6502a
Dec 7, 2016
820
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I think this is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard in awhile...

And you don't have to agree, but the amount of kids and young adults being blackmailed and worse indicate that there is a problem.

No one is being blackmailed from photos posted on facebook. Zero.
 
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drrich2

macrumors regular
Jan 11, 2005
197
95
I might be completely misinterpreting what you meant but what worries me in your response is that it appears that you are implying that only kids peers are a problem and that the chances of a "stranger" using a photo are remote and/or that with everything that's already out there there wouldn't need to be a reason to take a photo of a particular child. I might be incorrect, but your post seems to kinda imply that there isn't a reason to be careful since someone that really wants to do harm would always be able to.
I think school and maybe neighborhood peers are the main danger. They know the kid personally, have access via direct, community and online communication methods to the kid and the peer group, and potential motive to mock and humiliate the kid amongst the peer group.

A stranger could in theory snag a photo of your kid's face and head off the Internet, but then what? If they use it to make A.I. generated fake child porn, I imagine that's illegal and will probably never surface in a way that impacts your kid's life. Unless your kid is exceptionally beautiful, why would they use your kid? While disturbing and disgusting, is this a concern that ought to drive our behavior?

Some years back society became aware of 'up skirting,' where a small camera on one's shoe could grab photos from below looking up a girl's dress, and these photos were often posted online. Creepy and disturbing, but most of the concern seems to've passed and women still wear dresses.

I'm not arguing don't be careful, but rather how careful most mainstream people will find needful and worthwhile. To use an analogy, a determined burglar can get in one's home, but most of us lock our doors when we leave home. A fraction have home security systems. Everyone must decide what risk management strategy they deem good enough.
At first glance I wasn't going to respond as I do not want to get into discussions that get out of control or go very off topic but I think the subject is very important.
Agreed. I, too, have seen the 'point of view warrior' mindset triggered looking at controversial topics, leading to shout downs and determination to have the last word, vilify the opposition, etc... These issues should be discussed from different perspectives.
Your last line makes it look like this is only an issue in the USA (or countries that have yearbooks).
I don't see it as only a U.S. issue, but I'm not familiar enough with other cultures across the many nations to speak to that. My point about the year books was that school peers (who seem a more likely group from which cyberbullies targeting your kid may emerge) can get your kid's photo from a year book, and maybe a few photos. Keeping your kid's photos off Facebook may reduce exposure but not eliminate it.
I think the amount of children and families that are being blackmailed with nude photos indicates that there is a real problem especially given that kids that are being blackmailed might choose suicide as a way out instead of going to the police/parents etc.
I agree there's a real problem. The questions that then follow involve how prevalent, how severe, and what the upside is. For example, I've little doubt that in America, most of which has a car-dependent culture, in a given week many children are mangled in car wrecks. A journalist could compile graphically disturbing, heart rending accounts into a well-written piece and publish it online. That piece might remind us of the importance of seat belts, car seats, recommend age/height/weight parameters for riding in front vs. back seats, the risk of front seat air bags harming small people in front seats, and to be cautious on the roads.

But most people wouldn't avoid taking their kids on car trips whenever possible. There's a measure of risk we knowingly take on every time we take our families on a road trip, if only to Walmart or the grocery store.

Getting back to the example you mentioned, let's say we hear a story of some teen blackmailed with A.I.-created perversely sexualized and grossly inappropriate images. I would think police and, if school peers were behind it administration, would be helpful with that, but whether they are or not, that's traumatic, granted. At the same time, there might be a hundred thousand unreported cases of grandparents enjoying seeing their grandkids in another state posted on Facebook, mothers and fathers proudly displaying pics of Junior and Sissy for their social network to admire, and no harm (besides hogging server space).

So while I agree it's a real problem, and not everyone will react the same way, I suspect mainstream America won't do much differently, and that's not an unreasonable position for them to take.

This is part of a greater societal issue; how much protection kids ought to have. Is playing in the neighborhood unsupervised because the pedophiles might get you too dangerous? Baby sitters sometimes molest kids - do you rig your home with surveillance equipment so you can spy on them while you're out? And now...do you prohibit Facebook posts of your kid's photo out of fear school mates will concoct fake porn with A.I. and blackmail your kid who suffers and maybe commits suicide?

On a related note, discussions on such topics often occur in isolation. Given the stat.s on %'s of kids who are sexually abused at some point in childhood, and the sizable portion of those cases attributed to non-strangers (e.g.: father, grandfather, Mom's boyfriend, older brother/step-brother, family friend, baby sitter), I would think the danger of someone you know molesting your kid well outweighs the odds your kid will be traumatized by A.I.-porn blackmail perhaps leading to suicide. So, if the latter alarms someone so much they steadfastly avoid allowing posting of their kid's photo online, how much do they worry about what sounds like the greater dangers?

Not everyone will draw the same conclusion nor is one answer right for every family. The question of how much vigilance is enough is a thorny one for caring parents who don't want their kids victimized or living in a bubble.
 
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rm5

macrumors 68020
Mar 4, 2022
2,142
2,397
United States
I'm sure there'll be more to my thoughts, but here's what I have so far.
For one thing, my wife and I are pretty conservative with openly sharing photos. Even on Facebook, where we both have our privacy settings pretty tight, there are maybe a half dozen photos of him-two from when he was born, one Christmas card photo, and then a few he was in(but not explicitly tagged) from when we went to the pumpkin patch with one of her friends.
I guess I'm a little confused as to why there'd be photos like that on Facebook in the first place. Did you voluntarily take them and post them? Of course it's your decision what you do with that content, and don't take that as a judgement.
I also think trying to erase kids from society - and like it or not, the digital space is a very much part of society today - will cause all sorts of even bigger problems.
What does getting rid of photos of children have to do with "erasing them from society?" I'm not seeing the connection there...

Sure, the digital world is very important, and a big part of society, but there are such things as in-person interactions. Wiping pictures of children off the internet is not going to "erase them from society," because there are schools, community centers, etc. (and even just in the public) - those are all spaces where children exist.
 
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