An 18-year-old woman in Carinthia, Austria is suing her parents for posting embarrassing childhood photos of her on Facebook without her consent. According to the young woman, "They knew no shame and no limit—and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot..." She says that despite her requests, her parents have refused to delete the photos. Her response? To sue them.
"I'm tired of not being taken seriously by my parents," she proclaims.
While her father believes that, as the photographer, he had the right to do with his photos as he chose, his daughter's lawyer believes they stand a chance in court if he can prove the images violated her rights to a personal life.
If he's right, this court case will set a dangerous precedent. Well... dangerous to the Facebook-happy parents among us who publicly chronicle their kids' every peep, poop, and cry.
If you look at my Facebook profile, it becomes clear that I'm not blameless. Hell, I'm a regular contributor to this site, mining my daughter's life for moments of levity. But when it comes to which one of us will eventually be sued by our daughter, or perhaps just badmouthed in therapy, I think my husband's the one who's in real danger.
And while I don't think we'll ever face resentment from our daughter over the adorable photos of her posing with her grandparents or frolicking with bubbles, there are a few categories of photos and videos I think all of us should stop posting.
1. Naked Photos
Early on in her life, my husband posted a video of our daughter splashing in her baby tub. It was super cute, but I realized I should probably start setting boundaries immediately. "No naked shots!" I told Michael. "She will totally hate this someday, and your eleventy-billion Facebook friends don't need to see her in the nude!" Sure, she was just a newborn. But naked newborn photos are just a slippery slope to... topless toddler photos? I don't know. I still have flashbacks to a series of photos in my childhood photo album wherein I am marching around wearing only a towel as a cape. Even worse is the set where I am completely bare-assed and peering into the toilet bowl to admire my success at potty training. Guys, we have to draw the line somewhere.
2. Cry Face
I can't remember the specifics but, one time, my husband posted a video during which our daughter began to cry. And instead of deleting the video, he kept rolling! And then posted it to Facebook! Never mind the fact that we had both once decried the cruelty of this. I mean, for the love of god, stop taping and console your child! "Why would you post a video of your daughter's misery?" I asked my husband. Sigh.
3. Messy Eating
I feel as if we have an entire collection of photos wherein our kid's face is plastered in a formerly edible paste, or wherein various types of food are spilling out of her mouth. I can recall similar photos of me as a toddler. Mashed potatoes. Pea soup. Milk. Listen. We grow up to become the type of people who are mortified to find that there's been a piece of parsley stuck between our front teeth for several hours. I feel as if, as a rule of thumb, we should ask ourselves: will my child someday be embarrassed by this?
4. Forced to Make Weird Noises on Command
This one is pretty self-explanatory, though the compulsion itself is understandable. Every time your child learns how to make a new sound or say a new word or do the exploding fist bump, you feel so proud you want to share it with the world. But sometimes, when re-watching videos wherein I can hear me or my husband saying repeatedly, "Do it again, Em! Do it again!" I can't help but feel guilty over the fact that we're treating our daughter like a trained monkey.
I'm now thinking back to my own childhood photos. The reaction shot when I received my first kiss from a boy. The first-day-of-school photos that reveal me to have been a total fashion trend victim. The floral capris with the lace hems. The color-block canvas sneakers. I'll admit that this can be a difficult one to make a judgment call on. Oftentimes, when you're in the moment, you don't realize that a trend like sideways ponytails or light-wash overalls will crash and burn so quickly. So for this one, maybe just use caution?
6. My Daughter Dancing Around the House While Wearing My Pajama Bottoms on Her Head
I'm pretty sure that's the one she's gonna sue us for.