The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin’s hotly anticipated Facebook movie, opens today in theatres. I for one can’t wait to see it. But I will wait on taking part in Facebook’s newest experiment: allowing parents to hypertag their babies in Facebook photos.
As of now, if you want to “tag” a profile-less child (under the age of 13) in a Facebook photo, you have to use a plaintext tag – one that isn’t clickable and doesn’t allow for friends and family to see aggregated shots of their little pumpkin.
But according to The San Francisco Chronicle, “The company is working on some sort of solution.” Why?
Because, says Nicholas Carlson, “Lots and lots of Facebook execs and engineers including CTO Bret Taylor and VP of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya suddenly have babies and they’ve all realized the site had the problem.” See? Proof that it’s impossible to understand the problems parents face until you actually become one yourself.
Of course, I don’t really have a problem with not being able to tag my daughter in Facebook photos. I have put pictures of her up on my profile, and I do occasionally use her name. But despite the fact that my profile is not viewable by people I’m not friends with, there are many people I’ve never actually met on my friends list. I don’t list my daughter as my child on Facebook, either. It’s not so much that I’m worried some weirdo will come stalk us in the night, but more that people I don’t know will begin to feel like they know my daughter, something I’m sure Mommybloggers like Dooce deal with all the time. It’s sort of sweet that a stranger might feel affection for your child, and also kind of bizarre.
I’m not against putting photos of children online; I kept a baby blog for a long time, which was public (but mostly read by friends and family), then private (while I was moving, then divorcing), and now it’s public again, since it’s an archive at this point. But there are some parents who either don’t have the time or inclination to set up a site just for baby and who want to be able to use Facebook as the main source of sharing photos of their little ones. Joel Stein even went so far as to set up a Facebook page for his baby – while the baby was still in utero – but Facebook eventually took it down. He says, “All I wanted was to avoid being one of those annoying parents who post photos of their kids on their own page.” I don’t mind seeing photos of people’s kids on their page, but I think we can all agree that you should never use a photo of just your baby as your profile pic. If I’m showing my zits and budding greys, you should pony up, too, old high school pal.
There’s another problem with tagging your baby on Facebook that has less to do with privacy, and more to do with future job security. We all know that college students have been scouring their Facebook profiles clean of any photos that might prevent them from being hired by prospective employers. If the poor baby with a bong had been tagged in his photo – that’s the kind of thing that might haunt him for years. “Sorry, kid. We don’t hire pot smokers.” “But that was 20 years ago!” “Exactly. You started too young.”
Do you post photos of your kids on Facebook – and will you tag them once Facebook implements that option?