Posting photos of the kids comes with its own netiquette

Technology has made it easier than ever for parents to document and share every cute kid moment on Facebook.

But that doesn't mean every moment should be shared.

I don't have a child, but I've heard of parents going through a few awkward situations when it comes to posting photos of children. So I spoke to several parents who are active on social networks, and there seems to be a few key issues everyone agrees on.

Keep the bathtub and potty training photos to yourself and the grandparents. Naked photos are too personal to share on Facebook. If you depend on Facebook as the main way to share photos with family, then use privacy settings to limit access just to a select few family members.

Take caution when posting a photo of kids that aren't your own. I've come across a few parents that don't want their children on Facebook at all, so be sure to ask a parent if it's OK to post the pic on Facebook before doing so.

And if you are one of those parents who is worried about what is shared on Facebook, kindly let your friends and family know ahead of time to avoid an awkward situation later.

Out of respect for safety, don't tag a child's full name on Facebook. Some parents told me they never put their own kid's real names online. Some just use an initial when mentioning a child in a status message or in a photo.

If you make your photos public to people outside of immediate family, avoid revealing where the child goes to school. If the child wears a uniform, be sure to crop out the uniform logo in the picture. It's a good way to keep safe from predators. (It's also a policy that the Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami sends home to parents.)

Since most teenagers think their parent is embarrassing, a few parents of tweens and teens gave me some advice on how to avoid being annoying online. Some ask their kid if they can post a photo to Facebook before doing so. Others will post regardless, but let their teen do the tagging.

It used to be that mom and dad got out the dusty photo album to show off baby pictures. Now, a whole generation of kids are growing up in an age where the world sees their baby photos before they can talk. So for those that can't wait to show every adorable moment, just ask yourself, ``Would I be embarrassed if this was posted about me?''

As momblogger Karen Ziemkowski posted on her Twitter account, ``your kid is a person, not a pet.'' She keeps in mind that anything she posts will be around when her son grows up.

So that naked photo of your kid covered in poop . . . yeah, not something that should be shared with the world.

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Tweak Picasa settings to keep photo-sharing private

Picasa_logo This week's Poked column answers a question from a reader who doesn't want everyone on his Google contact list to see photos he uploads to Picasa, Google's free photo editing and sharing service:

Q: I have been using Google's Picasa program to download my pictures for storage and sharing with friends. After I download pictures into the Picasa Album, I select people I want to share them with, but Picasa sends them to everyone on my e-mail list. This creates a problem for me as some of the pictures are not meant to be shared with everyone on my e-mail list.

I have asked Picasa's help section for an answer, but never received a reply.

-- Fred Hampton, Lauderhill

A: It's hard to give specific help without seeing your computer in front of me, but here's a guide to make sure your photos don't get shared with everyone in your contact list. First, make sure you have Picasa 3.6, the newest version. You can control Picasa photo album privacy settings through the software, and also through the website interface.

Upload a folder to your online account with the "Sync to Web" button on the far right of the screen. The sync can also can be turned on or off with the pull-down menu next to the Share button.

Before you start syncing your photos to your account, double-check your privacy settings. In the Picasa software, click on "Tools" in the top menu, and then click "Options." Go to the "Web Albums" tab. Select if you want the folder or album to be public, unlisted or unlisted and require a sign-in.

• "Public" means anyone in the world can see the photos.

• "Unlisted" means the world can see it, if they happen to know the special URL to find it.

• "Sign-in required to view" means it's only seen by people you specifically listed to share those photos with, and those people need to have a Google e-mail account.

Once you've shared a photo folder or album, log on to Picasa online to see who was sent invitations to see the album (picasaweb.google.com). Click to view an album, and on the right column it will show which people or groups got an e-mail notification to see it. Click "edit" to modify your contact groups. If a sign-in is required, you can change your mind by clicking the "X" near a group or individual to cancel access.

Here's a good way to keep things private: Take advantage of the "Starred Images Only'' share option. If you add photos to a folder, they won't be shared unless you take the time to mark it with a star inside the Picasa program. That way you won't accidentally share unwanted photos.

And remember, you can't set specific privacy settings per photo -- only for the entire album or folder.

As always, shoot us an e-mail if you have any vexing questions about social media or need advice.

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Posting photos of friends can get dicey

Well it's another Tuesday, meaning another Poked question answered! This question came in from a non-Facebooker about posting photos:

Q: I recently had lunch with an old acquaintance from high school. She took some pictures of me at lunch and when she sent them to me, I noticed it was from her Facebook page. (She created a photo album of her lunch with me and posted it.) I didn't give her permission to post my picture in this way and I don't like it.

Also, I have heard from some other people that several of these old high school ''friends'' have pictures of me on their pages -- some not flattering. I would like to know what are my rights regarding my image and who can use it without my permission? Or do you think I'm being too uptight? I do not have a Facebook profile nor do I want one.

A: The short answer to your question is, because the photos were taken in a public place, you don't have any rights to them. We checked with Holland & Knight lawyer Sandy Bohrer, who pointed out that in a public place, anyone can take your photograph.

He also made a good point: "I would assume if you went to lunch with an old friend, and they took your photograph, that they would share it with family and friends."

Facebook is the modern-day way to share those pictures, which, by the way, are only accessible to people on Facebook who are authorized to see it. That's usually people's network, friends and friends of friends.

Now, that doesn't stop you from e-mailing that old friend and asking her to take those pictures down. Something along the lines of, "Thanks for showing me those pictures, but I'm really not comfortable having them on Facebook, since I'm not on there. Would you mind taking them down?" should suffice.

It's fine not to have or want a Facebook profile -- but many people do. That means assuming that if people take your picture, it has a good chance of ending up online, so if you don't want it there, make sure you speak up.

Another tip: Why not create a bare-bones Facebook account so you can monitor all these things yourself? At least that way, you can post pictures of yourself that you do like!

Send us your ugly pictures from high school and we'll post them to our blog. If you share yours, we'll share ours. As always, non-Facebookers and social media geeks are welcome to send questions of netiquette to poked@miamiherald.com.

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Did a drunken MySpace photo cost student her degree?

Yet another tale of caution when it comes to mixing social networking with the professional world. A student-teacher at Millersville University sued her school, saying she was denied a degree because of a photo on her MySpace page where she was a "drunken pirate," the Washington Post reports. She said it was free speech, but a Pennsylvania court said no because she was a public employee, and ruled in favor of the school.

It seems there were other factors involved here than just one photo. And no matter if you agree or not with the court's decision, it's just another reason to make us all paranoid about the photos we put on social networking sites.

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