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Is your back-to-school photo privacy proof? Nicola Clark
3 February 2017

back to school

As tots, tweens and teens head back to school after what has been a ‘somewhat ok’ summer, the annual ‘first day at school’ pics are flooding Facebook feeds around New Zealand. As young kiwis, sporting school uniforms and new backpacks with iPads in hand head off to school, a sigh of relief can be heard around the country from relieved parents.

But just as loud as that sigh of relief is, is the click of the smartphone to capture this education milestone.

Proud parents of young kiwis heading off to school is a popular picture subject, quickly uploaded to social media feeds, perhaps without thinking about the personal information clues and privacy they might be giving away.

Power of an image

As the international Safer Internet Day creeps closer on 7 February, this year’s ‘Power of Image’ theme is a timely reminder about the true power of an image and the sharing of personal information clues.

“Photos can sometimes hold clues that might give away personal information. It’s important to remove these clues and not accidentally share them in the photos you take”

Although there are obvious steps to keeping your child safe from online dangers, sometimes it’s important to have a quick look at what you’re uploading for the world to see, as a parent.

Dangers

When posting photos of our kids' milestones, it’s important to remember that when uploaded to the internet, you have limited control on who is potentially peeping through your Facebook.

Anyone who can see a picture could use it to figure out who is in it, where it was taken and when it was taken. If that picture was taken at school, it is revealing a lot of detail about a place where children spend a significant amount of their time. You may not be comfortable with some people having this level of detail about your child, but once it’s out there, it’s very hard to take back.   

Checklist

So a quick checklist and reminder for parents before posting photos of your child’s next achievement:

  1. Who can see my pictures?
  2. Is there any personal information in this photo?
  3. Are there any distinctive backgrounds?
  4. Will this alert anybody to where my child is on a constant or regular basis?

If you can answer no to these questions, you should be ok posting your picture. But remember, what goes on the internet stays on the internet so be sure about posting that lasting photo.

Our advice would be to double check privacy settings on social media accounts, be aware of who your friends are and be aware of what personal information a photo you post could potentially give away. Check out some of our other privacy tips for being safe online.

Image credit: Back to School by Dawn Hudson via Public Domain Pictures.

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  • Helpful tips! I also recommend talking to your child about posting their pic online and explaining who can see their picture. If the child says no - don't post. Never too early to teach them they can control their personal information

    Posted by Kathryn Dalziel, 04/02/2017 12:08am (50 days ago)

    Post Reply

    The aim of the Office of Privacy Commissioner’s blog is to provide a space for people to interact with the content posted. We reserve the right to moderate all comments. We will not publish any content that is abusive, defamatory or is obviously commercial. We ask for your email address so that we can contact you if necessary to clarify your comment. Please be respectful of authors and others leaving comments.

  • This is especially relevant to Snapchat stories, where the whole idea is that users post photos of events as they're happening. That greatly increases the chance of sharing your location at that moment, especially if multiple photos are posted from the same location.

    Snapchat doesn't have a feature that allows delayed posting, however users can force a Snapchat to not post by turning airplane mode on or mobile data/Wi-Fi off before they post it then 'retry' the post after they've left that location.

    Another thing to watch out for is the metadata that a photo, especially one taken on a mobile phone might hold. Your location might be revealed by GPS coordinates being embedded in the photo as EXIF data. Social networks generally scrub this data, but if you're sharing photos in other ways it might still be attached.

    Posted by Matt Taylor, 10/02/2017 2:57pm (43 days ago)

    Post Reply

    The aim of the Office of Privacy Commissioner’s blog is to provide a space for people to interact with the content posted. We reserve the right to moderate all comments. We will not publish any content that is abusive, defamatory or is obviously commercial. We ask for your email address so that we can contact you if necessary to clarify your comment. Please be respectful of authors and others leaving comments.

Post your comment

The aim of the Office of Privacy Commissioner’s blog is to provide a space for people to interact with the content posted. We reserve the right to moderate all comments. We will not publish any content that is abusive, defamatory or is obviously commercial. We ask for your email address so that we can contact you if necessary to clarify your comment. Please be respectful of authors and others leaving comments.

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