Katie McCarthy: Sharing baby photos on Facebook

February 14, 2013 

Your entire world changes when you have a child.

This isn't some grand revelation on my part, but each new parent has to discover it on his or her own.

Obviously, the introduction of a new human being into your life who depends on you to feed her, bathe her, change her diapers and teach her how to do all the things that independent and productive humans know how to do is a huge undertaking.

In the pre-baby stage, it's relatively easy to understand the upcoming time-demands of a child. But the way a baby changes the totality of your life is harder to grasp until she's actually in your arms.

Every decision I make, every thing that I do, I think about how it will impact her. Even writing this column, I keep deleting and retyping sentences, second-guessing whether I should even be talking about her in such a public format in the first place.

I'm assuming most first-time parents have similar experiences.

And there is no place where this internal struggle rears its ugly head like Facebook.

I never announced my pregnancy on Facebook, instead I told my family and friends the old-fashioned way -- I called them on the phone.

But a few months later when my husband posted a picture of the completed crib, I got congratulatory comments from people saying they must have "missed the announcement."

This made me wonder if I'd made some sort of social media faux pas. In being a member of an online social network, is it expected that I divulge this kind of information?

So after family and close friends got news of her birth, I posted a picture of my daughter on Facebook, introducing her to the world. But after that, I've been a little leery of sharing her image on the site.

While I love the idea of sharing her cherubic little face and spreading the joy that she brings to our lives, I also want to protect her from the big, bad world for as long as humanly possible.

And I want to maintain control over her image.

It's nice to show friends a picture of my baby, but once it's posted I have no control over who re-posts it. Anyone could share it with a whole group of people that I may not know or who I may not want seeing the pictures.

Suddenly I lose control of my child's exposure to the world, and that thought scares me.

As far as I can tell, there isn't a way to disable the "share" option on photos posted to Facebook. But even if my friends don't share it, simply "liking" or commenting on the photo could cause it to pop up on someone else's news feed.

So until I can be sure that the pictures I post are as private as I'd like them to be, it's unlikely you'll see much of my baby on Facebook.

But I'd be more than happy to show you photos the old-fashioned way -- you know, on my phone.

Katie McCarthy, copy editor, can be reached at kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8515.

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