Will Facebook Overprotect Privacy?

According to the English media, Facebook is thinking of generating an automatic warning to a member who posts a picture of a child to a publicly-accessible page on Facebook.

Is this a serious over-reaction to the threat that the kid – or the parents – face from such a posting? How many people are actually affected by predators of any kind using online pictures? What proportion are those victims of the numbers of people whose pics are on FB?

Is this a tactic by FB to appear to be concerned about privacy when its entire lucrative business model is built on selling its members’ personal information in various ways?


  1. My considered response to your last question is “Yes.”

    That said, the tactic doesn’t displease me, though I can’t imagine it would have any effect.

    I’m a parent of young kids whose photos end up on FB too often for my liking (and “ever” is too often). A part of me still harbours the concern that strangers will use my kids’ photos for nefarious purposes.

    But my main concern is that kids’ privacy often is assumed away from them by proud or amused relatives and friends, either without their permission or before the kids are old enough to have an informed say.

  2. I agree with Kim’s sentiment that the primary issue with posting pictures of children is that you are doing so without their consent. I wouldn’t be at all concerned about the “predator” issue.
    No one is considering the point of view of the child or, really, the child’s ‘best interests.’ It’s one thing to take pictures of your kid that circulate amongst family and friends in physical form (as used to happen). It’s another to (1) put the photo into the public realm (e.g. a public Facebook page) where the photo could be available forever to anyone who wants it or (2) share the photo electronically with friends and relatives who may make copies. I know I have destroyed several pictures of me as a child that I found embarrassing. How do kids growing-up now do the same thing?

  3. It’s unclear based on that source whether Facebook intends to employ facial recognition to provide a safety check for the user and his/her own kids (e.g. a warning before photos of your own kids are posted by you) or whether it anticipates warning a parent that other people are posting pictures of his or her own children.
    Either plan should make us pause to consider how FB knows that these are pictures of our kids (as opposed to just any kid) in the first place.
    Will it only warn people who have voluntarily shared information about their children (that they even have children) with FB? Will FB use AI to “guess” that you have a kid and populate your Graph API with family information including offspring automatically?