Social media posts by parents bring concerns for children's privacy, safety
A new bill would allow kids to request content be taken down at a certain age.
Cam Barrett was strapped to a hospital gurney and in a neck brace following an automobile accident when her mother took pictures of the moment to post on social media.
It was not the first time Barrett’s mother shared personal information. Previous posts included details about Barrett’s first menstrual cycle and photographs of Barrett as a little girl sporting a bikini.
“She would just post paragraphs about my day-to-day life, what I was doing,” Barrett told ABC News Live.
Now Barrett is among the first generation whose parents may have overshared private details on social media about their children, a group that lawmakers are now working to protect with privacy legislation.
One proposed remedy is a first-of-its kind bill out of Washington state that would allow kids to request content be taken down once they reach a certain age. The bill, which is stalled in the state legislature, was co-sponsored by Rep. Kristine Reeves.
“It’s a different culture to grow up in the eye of social media. And the pressures are very different. They're much more intense,” Reeves told ABC News.
“Not all kids get that right or that choice to be included in these materials. And, quite frankly, don’t always get the explanation of what it could mean for them, the implications of it long term,” Reeves said.
Those implications are something Barrett, who testified in favor of the bill, says she wishes her mom took into account when Barrett was growing up and had her private life thrust into the public domain.
Barrett said that some of the photos that her mom posted would get comments from older men.
“She didn’t know better. You know, the internet was new to her generation,” Barrett said.
Now when Barrett, who is 24, searches for her name, photos of her as a child wearing a bikini pop up on Google, she said during a hearing for the proposed Washington bill, adding that she’s “terrified to have those weaponized against” her.
Parenting expert Leah Plunkett, author of “Sharenthood,” says posting on social media is now an extension of families’ everyday lives, but warns that many parents aren’t aware of just who can see their posts.
“You really have no reliable way as a parent or really any user of social media of knowing exactly which eyeballs will be on the data that is reflected in your post now or in the future,” Plunkett told ABC News.
For Kodye Elyse, a single mom in California, her social media posts started as a fun way to entertain her three kids during the pandemic.
“I had started just doing some dances with my kids online to kind of pass the day and, pretty quickly, I started gaining some traction getting a following,” Elyse told ABC News.
She says she quickly found a community on Instagram and Facebook, where she would share update after update about her family and the “ins and outs of being a single mom.”
But it wasn’t long before her social media presence took a dark turn, after a video of her swapping places with her 5-year-old daughter went viral.
“I opened the comments and the comments were all inappropriate towards her. I was so disgusted. I immediately deleted the video. Deleted every video of them on the page and haven't really looked back,” Elyse said.Even after wiping every picture of her kids from the internet, she says their school address was leaked and her family started to receive death threats.
“I would have gone into it more prepared, possibly with a, you know, suit of armor and would have never posted my kids ever,” Elyse said.