This subject has been on my mind a lot lately, as my daughter ages I think about how much of her life I am sharing online and as my readership grows I become less comfortable with sharing every detail than I was before. It doesn’t help that I have been hearing story after story of kids’ photo’s being stolen and reposted on fake accounts in a new trend called “baby roleplaying”, you can read about this new trend here. I was appalled and in disbelief when I read the above linked article, but search “babyRP” or “adoptionRP” on Instagram and see for yourself. If you’ve been following me from the start I’m sure you’ve noticed a huge shift in the content on this little space of mine. I want to stay true to my heart but my family life posts have slowly diminished, mostly because I don’t want Scarlett to grow up resenting me for sharing her life and with the world, but partly because I’m terrified of her identity being stollen. Way back when I was just blogging for grandmas and grandpas it was ok, but there’s this nagging voice in my head telling me to scale it back a bit.
It all started with the growth of my Instagram following. I took part in a giveaway and was able to gain hundreds of followers through it, except the followers were coming in quicker than I could keep up and somewhere along the way I stopped checking into who exactly was following my profile. Then one day I posted a sweet photo of my husband and daughter snuggling up together and looking into each other’s eyes, right away a comment popped up that I’m not even comfortable repeating and It scared me. This was a personal photo of the two people whom I love most and I just felt so violated. I quickly deleted the comment, searched the user and was appalled to see that they were following me. Needless to say I quickly blocked said user but it made me question the other 1000+ followers I had.
As a blogger I want to grow my following, more following means more reach and more reach means more successful posts, but there comes a point when the followers aren’t worth it. I think as bloggers we get caught up in social media and forget that there are people following us who may not be good people. I am someone who likes to see the good in everyone, you may even call me a little naive. But naive I am not anymore, I want engaged readers and followers and those followers who post foul comments on my photos are not loyal and engaged readers.
This whole experience got me thinking about my family’s privacy and how I can protect it. I love sharing my life with my readers because most of you have become like friends to me and I don’t plan on changing much but as my following and readership grows so do my fears and anxieties about my family’s safety. No blog is worth my family’s safety and I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way so through my own personal research I have come up with some ways in which you can protect your family’s identity on your own social media channels/blogs. These are also some of the ways I plan to protect my family in the future.
Don’t Publish Photos of Your Kid(s) face(s)
So I do publish photos of my daughter, but if you’ve noticed I rarely publish any of her face straight on looking at the camera and this is because the photos that are typically stolen are the ones that are crisp images of babies/kids smiling at the camera. Ask yourself if you’re comfortable with this risk, it’s ok if you are because chances are it will never happen, but just be aware that it’s a risk you take.
If you feel that it’s within your comfort level to post these images it’s a good idea to watermark them in some way so that they are less likely to be stollen. Something I never thought about before was watermarking my images on Instagram but I think it’s something I’m going to start doing more frequently because the last thing I want is my daughter’s photo being stollen.
Never Discuss Location
Something I’ve found myself becoming more comfortable with is sharing where I am from, and I don’t mind sharing this information with readers whom I have a connection with and have come to know through the blog but talking openly about the city I am from and my address is a scary thought for me. You just never know who is watching/reading. I try to be as vague as possible about where I live, without seeming standoffish to my readers.
Make it a point to turn off your navigation on your phone when sharing photo’s on Instagram. Without doing this you are providing your exact location when sharing a photo, so anyone could find your exact home address this way. Kind of a scary thought isn’t it? Here’s a quick wiki tutorial on how to shut off your phone’s navigation.
Another good tip is to never publish photo’s that could provide insight into the location of your home, for example, a photo of the front of your house, your vehicle/licence plate or anything that could give hints as to where your home is located, be mindful of the background in photos also.
Get a P.O. Box
I love participating in blogger gift exchanges but the more you share your mailing address on the internet the easier it is for someone to find it so if you’re thinking about participating in a gift exchange it’s a good idea to buy a PO box. I would rather someone only be able to find the city I live in and not the exact address of my home but again it’s all about your comfort level.
Furthermore, if you plan on doing sponsored posts you will need to provide an address for these companies to send you product to review. Think about how comfortable you are with sharing your home address and don’t just hand it out like candy unless you’re sure of who you’re giving it to.
Don’t Blog About Vacation Until After the Fact
This one is kind of a common sense, it’s like asking for your house to be robbed, vandalized or even worse broken into while you’re in it (if it’s just your husband going away, for example). I never disclose if we will be out of town because I’m just not comfortable with the world knowing that my house is vacant just as I never discuss when my husband is/will be away as I’m not comfortable with the world knowing I’m home alone with my daughter.
In the end it’s really all about your comfort level but some of these tips I hadn’t even thought of so I wanted to share with you all in case you’re feeling some of the same worries and anxieties as myself. This social media/blogging world is so wonderful and I’m so thankful for all of the incredible people I have met and who I’m sure I will continue to meet but there are people out there who we need to protect ourselves and our families from.