On September 26th 2018, Facebook will have been open to the general public for 12 years, having previously been available only to elite university students.

This means children who were starting school when Facebook became mainstream are now entering adulthood, and many of them will have had their pictures posted on the platform without their consent.

According to a Manchester cyber security consultancy study, half (52%) of parents say they regret sharing photos of their children online.

The same study revealed that more than two-thirds (68%) of 18-24 year-olds have asked their parents to take down photos of them from Facebook, and a similar number (70%) say they’ve asked their parents at least once not to post images of them without checking first.

Online privacy expert Steve Roberts, founder of OSS Technology, is warning parents to take seriously the concerns of family members and to work with them to protect their privacy.

“No parent wants to embarrass their child or violate their privacy, but things they innocently shared a few years ago may now be a source of embarrassment or anxiety as that person enters adulthood. The digital world has changed a lot in the past 12 years, and privacy isn’t always guaranteed.”

On pictures they shared a long time ago, Mr Roberts believes now is a good time for families to review how they approach privacy.

“It’s easy to forget about content uploaded years ago, but it’s still there and - depending on your privacy settings - could still be accessible to anyone. My advice is for families to take the approaching milestone of Facebook’s ‘12th birthday’ and work together on a ‘family privacy policy’.

Online Spy Shop Guide to Creating a Family Privacy Policy

  1. * Check your privacy settings and ensure only people you can trust have access to what you share.

  2. * Consider a family content audit; invite your children to view the photos of them you’ve shared and flag any they would like you to remove.

  3. * Agree on a family privacy policy; work with family members to set ground rules around sharing content.

  4. * Use free tools like Nimbus screenshot that let you blur images. This helps protect the privacy of people in your photos from whom you can’t get sharing consent.

  5. * If in doubt, leave it out. A good way to judge whether a photograph of a family member is suitable for sharing is to ask yourself whether you’d display it on your front door.