Monday, August 18, 2014

Should Authors Post Pictures of Young Fans?

When I participate in author events, I love to do a drawing for a free signed copy of my book. It makes my day to see how excited the winner gets.




Each time, someone snaps a photo of me with the winner. And each time, I grapple with whether to post the photo online. Yet repeatedly I see authors post photos of themselves with young fans on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and their blogs.



There are laws about posting pictures of people without permission. Generally speaking, if they're in a public place (like the J.K. Rowling event above), it's okay. However, if the photo is taken in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, you may be violating that person's rights.



Okay, so technically, a book event is a public place. No one should have a reasonable expectation of privacy while posing with an author. However, when that person is a child, there is a completely different set of issues.




There was a case recently where Facebook removed a photo of a woman's young daughter where her buttocks were exposed. The photo was meant to mimic this 1959 ad.



The mom protested, but the entire thing served to remind us that we live in different times. In 1959, even a real photo of a child's bare buttocks was innocent and cute. Today, we know a little too much about society. Today's parents, rightly so, want to control who sees photos of their children online.




For that reason, I'm a little iffy about posting photos of other people's children, even with parental permission. What do you think? How should authors handle posting photos of young fans online?

61 comments:

  1. Definitely no nudity of any kind. But if it pertains to a child winning a prize and the child and parents are okay with posting the picture, than I think it is fine. Just think how excited that child will be to show his/her friends about the fact that they got to pose with a real author, or that they won a competition. When in doubt, do whatever feels right to you.

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  2. I guess that's one of those 'if in doubt, don't.' I'd think if the parent said yes and it was in a public place, that should be enough, but you never know.

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  3. If the parents say it's okay then I would think it would be alright but I do understand your dilemma. It's not an easy thing to decide ...

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  4. I would not do it. Our school district requires a signed permission form for pictures of students (no names even) to be posted on the district website.

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  5. I don't. I was once in the paper with a group of students, but I didn't take the photo or post it. The school did, and the students had to have their parents sign a paper allowing the picture to go to press.

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  6. Times definitely are different and paranoic too. We have a case of a Serbian couple who live in Switzerland and whose two little kids were taken away from them because the police has found a few pictures of their kids naked in their house. And they just took photos of their kids while they were bathing them which is totally normal in my country. They haven't been able to get the kids back for two years now. It's an absolute scandal.

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  7. There was a movie about something like that, Dezmond, a long time ago. A man from another country was arrested here for walking around naked in front of a child? Something like that. It was completely normal to him because of his customs, but in America we are freaky about nudity. I remember watching it with my mom and she was talking about how in other countries, nudity isn't scandalous like it is here. I remember going to a nude beach in Germany when I was a kid--scratch that, it was a BEACH. It was the norm there for people to be naked on the beach. It's only as you get older in America that you're taught nudity is shameful...kids over there don't know the difference. Things may have changed since then? I know at one time, Europeans were appalled by the violence we seem to see as normal on TV and in movies and we're scandalized by the fact that they have nude women in their Sunday papers.

    And the violence in American films has only gotten worse... We really should be worried a little more about the fact that people enjoy watching movies like Saw and Hostel and America seems to think that's perfectly normal...

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  8. We live in a different era and our privacy is very important but if people don't want to appear in the media, then they should not attend these events.

    I got off Facebook because it's too much in my face and I don't want to know what everybody is doing every minute of the day as some can really get obnoxious and seem to have no boundary.

    I think using common sense should prevail when posting pictures of people online. If in doubt, don't post. Most people are in the media anyway.
    Hugs,
    JB

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  9. i'd not want my child's photo posted on any site if i wasn't the one posting it. that's just me. but i also don't face, tweet, pin or whatever. my blog stays more about animals and nature than myself, so i definitely lean to privacy.

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  10. I'd send the photo to them and if they wanted to post it, let them post it. Then you could link to it etc, cuts out anything that could go wrong on your part. As for the butt photo, I can see why facebook got rid of it, against terms and besides plenty of psycho child porn sleazebags out there, why would anyone want to open themselves up to that? Then N.A. is anal about nudity too, we can cut people up and kill millions in movies, but a little nudity and oh no! Please, everyone has one or the other, but not everyone is a murdering psychopath, kind of topsy turvy.

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  11. There really isn't much privacy anymore. Technology has made that so. Where kids are concerned I don't think I would post pictures of them. This is a tough question.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

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  12. This is a tricky question for sure, and is dependent on a lot of factors. Personally, I'd rather err on the side of caution, and I'm a firm believer in keeping children off of social media for as long as possible, because they will get sucked into the internet's black hole soon enough. My answer is a resounding no, but I do also understand the opposite side of this argument.

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  13. I think with parents' permission is the only way I would post a picture of a child on my blog, even from a public gathering. I don't post any pictures of us on my blog or even mention hubby's or son's names for privacy issues, so I think I would adopt that same thing if I was an author :)

    betty

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  14. It's sad that we have to have conversations like this but in the age we're living in, you can never be too careful, especially when it comes to children online. I would definitely get permission from the parents first.

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  15. I love taking photos with my Iphone, but I always stop short when it comes to photographing other people's children.

    It's a shame because I've seen some absolutely adorable kids, but I know their parents would not want some stranger clicking away.

    It's best to come down on the side of caution.

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  16. I love taking photos with my Iphone, but I always stop short when it comes to photographing other people's children.

    It's a shame because I've seen some absolutely adorable kids, but I know their parents would not want some stranger clicking away.

    It's best to come down on the side of caution.

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  17. Too many creeps out there to publish on FB anything about a child. Parents should know that and respect that this is a different world. Even an innocent photo shared with one can turn into a million.

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  18. it's true Stephanie, nudity usually yields life :) while violence takes it away, and yet everybody deems nudity is scandalous, but violence isn't?

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  19. Where kids are concerned, I say be doubly cautious at all times. It is a different time, and I hate to be paranoid, but I'm suspicious of just about everyone online till I know better. You can't pretend that you know a person by online chatter.

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  20. We always need to be concerned but I sometimes feel we swing way to far to the other side of the pendulum. Having children taken out of a home because of a couple of pics of them in a bathtub giggling should not be a problem. There are pictures of every one of us when we were little where we are naked-there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately people go too far. I actually agree with Alex, if the parent says yes and it is in a public place and this will help distribute your book, then why not. Your books enhance reading and it is designed for young girls so using common sense should prevail over fear

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  21. A minefield. I also would say if in doubt, don't.
    And no nude photos of children. Even if their parent's agree.

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  22. I don't post photos of other people's kids unless you really can't see their faces or they are kind've far away. It is worrisome. I think your group shot is fine, because the kids are posing with you, and there's no way the photo was taken without anyone's knowledge. On the other hand, if there was a part of a child's anatomy visible, that matters a lot. But that just isn't something that would happen at a book event.

    Your cabin story was so funny! Thanks for commenting.

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  23. I don't post photos or names of kids on my blog because I really don't know who's reading.

    Although I just realized that I linked my Instagram account and I do share photos of my friends' kids there...Maybe I should take that down...

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  24. I'd probably do it simply because it's a public place. I might ask though. I'd call out, "Is it okay if I post this online?" and hope that everyone said, "Okay!"

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  25. Modern times are pretty stupid about things like this. Paranoid parents overreact way too much.

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  26. The newspaper in the town where my children grew up used some photos of The Hurricane without my permission. It was fine because they were taken on a happy occasion. Another time they used a photo of a crying child on her first day of kindergarten. The parents were enraged, and I don't blame them. I think using photos has to do with the reason for the photo, and, really, it's preferable to have permission from parents--in some cases, even a release.

    Love,
    Janie

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  27. It is definitely a bit tricky when it comes to posting pictures with kids. At my school parents have to sign a form if the do NOT want their child's photo to be taken and released on the internet/newspapers, etc. So- any author who visits my school could post a picture of themselves with a child (we do not allow photos to be taken of a child whose parents sign the form). Oh- but no last names are allowed to be posted with the pictures.

    I think book events would be okay too because they are public. Still, I get worried too. I usually try to have someone take a couple "back of head" shots- so none of the kids' faces are shown. :)

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  28. I don't think it's a good idea. A lot of strange folks live on this good earth.

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  29. You know when its a general picture and has several people in it, I would think its absolutely fine. Plus I think it would make your young fan's day. But you definitely have a good point. You really have to think everything through these days don't you?

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  30. I suppose if they're posing with the author, it's perfectly fine, but if they don't know the picture is being taken it's better to just leave it. I'm not really sure.

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  31. And is a school performance a public event with an expectation of privacy? I am very careful never to post pictures of any of my granddaughter's classmates unless I have asked permission - each and every time. If it is a group shot I blur out the other students. It just feels like the right thing to do -- same with photos from birthday parties.

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  32. Yes, I think everyone should have a reasonable expectation of privacy. I, for one, would not like to be photographed and then displayed on somebodies blog. Saying that, it was a public place, so who knows ...

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  33. I post the picture of my kids only in a close space.
    I would not do it in any public space.In Japan, trouble of posting the picture of your friends or friend's kids without their permission is increasing.

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  34. I can totally understand the fine line. I guess I haven't really gotten to go to any events so I haven't come to this dilemma.
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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  35. If the parents are present, include them in the picture. But often they're not there, so send it to them and get permission.
    (A little tricky, since it might actually be the teenager pretending to be a parent in the reply.)
    So parental permission is a must, but I guess I haven't solved anything for you.

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  36. That is a really tricky situation, but it sounds like you're handling it well. At the museum, we always used consent forms. It can be a pain, but it protects you from someone changing her mind and coming after you later.

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  37. I'd never thought of this, but it's definitely something that bears thinking about. No one wants to ruffle any parent feathers! =)

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  38. Getting permission from the parents should be enough, but if you're still worried, then don't post any fan pics.

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  39. The system I work for has procedures in place for posting any pictures with people in it. A large sign must be posted in a very visible spot that pictures might be taken at the event with instructions on how to opt out from being included in those pictures. Signed photo releases are required if any part of the face is visible.

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  40. Schools have permission forms for media usage. Some parents and teachers do fuss about pictures being taken. I understand the sensitivity in this day and age.

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  41. Ah yes it's something tricky. I think I wouldn't like to post pictures like that either. I wouls feel uneasy.

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  42. Hi!

    Thanks for visiting over at my place. I love 'meeting' new people. Look forward to keeping up with you in the future.

    -Mac

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  43. I think if you had a signed permission from the parent, that would be fine, right? Also, just wanted to say, that I think it's sad that we live in a society where posting an innocent picture of this kind could get anyone in trouble or upset.

    The nudity vs. violence in TV and media in general is so screwed up, too. There shouldn't be such shame attached to nudity, true, but with all the disturbed child molesters and abusers out there, it makes it difficult to treat it as just a natural thing.

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  44. If you have the parents permission, I don't see the problem, even if it's an open event, but I'd still be iffy if the kids are under a certain age.

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  45. That's a tough one. I'm not an author, so I don't have to make that tough decision...but I do sometimes post personal pics on my blog. When I posted the other day of my daughter's b-day party, I just used picmonkey (which I LOVE btw) to blurb out everyone else's faces. I could have called my friends and asked permission, but I was too lazy. My daughter gave me permission and she thought that the pic came out funny with all the adjustments :) Good luck with your decision!
    ~Katie

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  46. Maybe authors should have a waiver. That would work, right? I haven't had young people come up to me for pictures yet (besides my daughter), so I haven't encountered that particular issue. Good thought though.

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  47. All photos I take myself I get permission from the parents. Other photos I pull off the internet by searching the keyword and "public domain" hoping I will be grabbing photos which are not restricted by copyright.

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  48. I think if you have the permission of the parents then it should be fine. With social media more people probably like seeing their pictures out there in situations like this. Especially if in a public place it should be okay. You could always have a sign with a warning that said any pictures taken could end up online so if they don't want them published to let you know.

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  49. I think that is a question that should be asked of the parents at the event. If they give the "okay" then post away!

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  50. Yes, laws clearly state [I guess a national law not sure] but if you're seen in a public place, the photos can be shared online.

    But, I wouldn't like my photo popping up on the 'net when I'm not expecting a photo of me in a crowd being taken, so I would respect other people's privacy. That, in a nutshell, has gone 'down the drain' with the internet ...there is no privacy anymore.

    Sad.

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  51. I would probably only do it with the parents okay

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  52. O never think in this before Stephanie.
    Is curious! But now we are talking about this I never take pics of others kids !
    But if the parents say yes is Ok :)

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  53. Never thought of that before, but you made a good point. However, I don't think parents should have any issues with having a picture of their child posted. Most of them would be proud. And it's not that you're exposing dirty little secrets because of that picture. Maybe it would be different if you wrote Fifty Shades Of Grey.

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  54. very interesting and def something I never really thought about. I watch a lot of YouTubers who do makeup tutorials and their fans are super young--they do meet ups and post the pics, and usually the girls are pre-teens and meeting in a safe, meet and greet environment. But yeah, it's prob a when-in-doubt-don't kind of thing.

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  55. I've watched some of those YouTube videos, Beth Ellyn, and I know exactly what you're talking about! I wonder if they're getting releases signed. Some of those YouTubers are making pretty good earnings doing that, even if they're young--especially if they agree to do videos to promote certain brands.

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  56. Good topic Stephanie. I wrote about the mom v. FB battle and was all on FB side.

    As long as no laws are violated, I am ok with others posting the pics. I think they just have to realize what issues they may be contributing to. As for me, I choose not to post any.

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  57. I'd say only if you have parent's signed permission. And let them know where the photo will be posted so they can promote it! But of course, if you feel iffy about it, don't. (Just my 2 cents.)

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  58. If you have doubts, don't do it. Listen to your gut

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  59. I haven't really thought about it that way before, but now that you've pointed it out, I have to say that I think that only parents should post pictures of their children, though not in any embarrassing pictures or anything. And I actually think maybe authors are okay to post pictures of young fans online...when the fans grow up, they may actually be proud of it. That's just me though, other people probably think very differently (my thoughts are pretty all over the place after this post XD).

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  60. Thanks for sharing great article

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