Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gone Viral

When Cael was very small and Graham was little more than a wriggling, pink bundle, I would tell my friends and family about Cael's antics and the amazing (and often unbelievable) predicaments he created for himself.  I heard time and time again, "you should start a blog" or "why don't you write a book?", which I would laugh and brush off, because the internet needed another "mom blog" like our yard needs more snow.

But as time went on, and some of those early stories grew hazy in my memory, I realized that a blog would not only be a creative outlet for me at a point in my life when I was feeling tired and often not especially useful, but also a great way to preserve those memories and share them with our friends and family.  A living, changing, evolving online memory book, if you will.

In the beginning I thought a lot about whether or not to post photos of my children on the website, but knowing that I was sharing with a group of friends of my choosing (mainly on Facebook), I wasn't too concerned, and turned my attention to the thousands of other photos of children posted by their parents.  I vowed to be vigilant about keeping their modesty in photos, and careful to never give out too much information that could be used against us in a negative way.

As I saw that more people were reading and enjoying the stories, I reconsidered my position on photos of the boys.  I have always asked Cael if he likes me sharing pictures and stories of him with people we know as well as people we don't know, and he has always been impressed by the idea that he was so special.  I'm not sure how he could be surprised-- Cael was special from the first day he entered this world and continues to stun me (in one way or another) as he grows.  I decided that if a day came when he was no longer comfortable with the blog, I would respect his decision and honor his privacy.

No, that day is not today.  Cael and Graham both continue to love the idea of the spotlight.  But last night, I got a message from a friend that said "Isn't this Cael?  Did you do this?" with a link to an internet meme using one of Cael's baby photos.  One of my favorite baby photos, at that.  And in big, bold letters across the top and bottom was a pretty crass joke about breastfeeding that made me cringe.  

I won't share it here, because my son's beautiful face was meant to be smiled at, not used for inappropriate jokes.  (Or at least ones not make by me.)  But when I saw that where it was posted on a parenting Facebook page, it had received over 13,000 likes and more than 1500 comments, it was not a time for smiling.

I always knew that there would be some theft of photos, and on a small blog like mine, I lack the ability or the know-how to lock my photos from downloading.  But the worst part is knowing that this is all my fault.  I have chosen to put my sweet boy out there for all to see, knowing that those photos could be misused, but hoping that the people viewing my blog would be respectful and at the very least, ask permission to use my photos and credit them appropriately, as I have always made sure to do myself.

So what happens now?  I thought a lot about this last night, during a very low moment made lower by pregnancy hormones that nearly forced me to burrow into a snowy hole in the backyard.  I talked a lot with Joel about whether I am being irresponsible by sharing my sons with the world in this way.  Am I knowingly putting them in danger, despite the safeguards I set for myself?  Or am I ready to throw in the towel, and delete this blog despite the happiness it has brought to my family?

Here is what I have decided.  For now, I will continue.  I have contacted the Facebook pages where the meme is posted and asked for it to be removed, and some already have done so.  I am trying to track down the site where it originated to have it taken down as well, but I have to accept that, at this point, I may not be able to undo what has been done.  From now on, there will be disclaimers on my site that my photos cannot be used without permission, and any photos that I deem worthy or desirable will be watermarked in an effort to protect them from being stolen.  

Will this work?  I don't know, and I guess only time will tell.  And, if in time, I find that this problem continues, I will discontinue the site to protect my children.  I don't want to give up on something that has brought us all joy, but ignoring it and my kids' safety would be a much bigger offense.

If you see any photos of Cael or Graham on another blog or a website, please contact me.  If you have any suggestions for ways I can further secure the site, I am open to those as well.  I so look forward to sharing the silly, frustrating, sometimes inane but often outlandish details of our life with those of you that care about us, and hope that I can continue to do so.



  1. There are ways to "lock" photos so they can't be right click saved, but there are super easy ways around that so I don't even bother. About the only way I know is to watermark right over the faces in all your photos....which I have decided not to do b/c I print my blog to use as baby books and I don't want watermarks all over their faces. However I know a lot of people who do watermark and it works well for them.

    Good luck with whatever you end up deciding! I've basically always gone the route of not posting pics that are in any way "inappropriate" in my mind and then hope for the best.

    1. Shawna- I agree about not posting pics that are inappropriate, and the photo that was taken was just a cute picture of Cael winking as a baby... one of my favorites. How do you change that setting so they can't be downloaded? I scoured Blogger and couldn't find it.

    2. To be honest I'm not sure b/c I've never done it. But I know lots of people who have....did you try googling "right click disable" or something like that?

    3. (But like the other poster said, the reason I've never bothered is b/c it's so easy to do a screen shot. However it's one more step that *might* deter someone. I just always think to myself though that strangers could be taking pics of my kids at any public place and posting them online, other parents probably post pics of them at school functions, etc....in today's society it just seems impossible to police in my opinion!)

  2. If you post a picture, anyone can take it. There is no you can "lock" it. If you disable right click they can just do a screen shot. This is running rampant in the photography industry. So sorry it happened to one of "our" babies though Mary.

  3. Oh and you can sue people for stealing the image if you want. The fines can be hefty.

  4. Hi, Mary, could you message me on Facebook, or email me? I blog on Facebook bans for the sharing of breastfeeding related materials over on http://www.jodinesworld.blogspot.com/. I'm really sorry to hear about how your son's image was used without your permission. An inactive admin on one of the pages that shared your image (I don't know if they created it or just unknowingly passed it on) has been banned from Facebook for 30 days, and I'm trying to sort out how it happened. I can be reached at jchase@mediaworkswest.com or https://www.facebook.com/jodinechase. Thank you.


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.