Friday, June 12, 2009


Today's rant is about privacy. I read a story on Yahoo today that just flabbergasted me. My comments about it may irritate you. I'd love to hear your opinions on it, agree or disagree.

The title of the news article was "Mo. family Christmas photo turns up in Czech ad". I bet you have read it. The gist of it was that this family posted a Christmas card picture of themselves on the mother's blog and on social networking sites, and then seemed amazed that it showed up somewhere not under their control. The fact that it showed up on a Prague storefront adds an amusing twist to the tale but doesn't really contribute to understanding the true moral of the story, as far as I'm concerned. OK, on the face of it, this seems like a disturbing thing. "Your pictures could turn up anywhere! Anyone could use them for any purpose!" Then I visited the mother's website and blog and lost all sympathy.

The site and blog are chock full of photos of her, her children and her life. It's her shtick. It's her business. Look for yourself. Heck, her link was in the Yahoo story. She's already so publicly exposed that one picture in a window in the Czech Republic is nothing.

This is the comment I left:

"My solution to the photo issue is that I never, never use a photo in my blog that shows recognizable people, and I don't put them in Flickr either. If it's an identifiable image, it stays in my external drive on my desk. With the capabilities available for digital photo restoration, I don't think watermarking or lowered resolution is enough - I have seen my husband's old family photo restoration efforts, and even as an amateur it's amazing what he can do. Good luck to anyone if they want to use a photo from my blog - all they'll find are boring snaps of my garden and my hobbies. I also never use any identifying information on my blog, names nor locations.

Moral of the story? If you want privacy, it's your responsibility to see that it happens. Don't put anything out there that you don't want grabbed up out of your control. If you want family to have pictures, mail them a copy. It's unlikely if you send a paper copy to Aunt Maude, it will be hijacked for commercial use.

Am a a grouch? Maybe. Paranoid? Possibly some would think so. But I know that privacy is a slippery slope. I especially wouldn't spread pictures of my kids around on the internet. I'm glad this turned out well for you, but there are dangers here."


About now, I'm sure a lot of you are thinking I'm an idiot. I just know that I have boundaries I don't want to cross. Unlike a lot of people in the world, you can't even Google me (if you know my name) and find anything. Oh, someone with my name is out there, but it's not me. To the Web world, I want to stay "The Calico Quilter", no face attached. I have told my name to some bloggers in emails, but it's rare. I developed an opinion that they were trustworthy from my exchanges with them.

If I had children, I would never leak out any information about them online. If family wanted pictures, I would print and mail them. I know that many of you post pictures of children/grandchildren on your blogs. Many people do. I just don't think I could.

As I said, privacy is a slippery slope.


RoeH said...

You're not an idiot. I commend you for taking such well thought out steps for privacy. I have used photos of my grandchildren and I worry about it constantly. I only did it with permission from their parents but I'm so concerned that I've about decided I will not do it anymore. There are some really disgusting people 'out there' who are worrisome. As you wrote so well, you never know where ... or how...they can end up. Crazy world we live in.

Paula, the quilter said...

Good for you! I, too, do not post much in the way of photos. If someone wanted to snag a picture of my quilt blocks, I would wonder why. I try not to give them fodder. I like my privacy.