April 20, 2024

How to delete photos of your children from the Internet

It makes sense that parents want to share their children with the world. Their easy smiles, moments of joy, and milestones seem like something innocent to celebrate.

Most people also know not to excessively post online to young children, tweens, or teens.

By now, we are familiar with the risks of sharing photos and videos of minors on social media websites or applications. where they can be used to intimidate or misused by strangers. An evolving threat is artificial intelligence tools, which are improving at a rapid pace. They can be fed real images and photographs to make “deep fakes.”

It’s already happening. New Jersey high school students allegedly used artificial intelligence tools to create sexualized images of their classmates using “original photos” last summer. A high school student in Issaquah, Washington, allegedly used real photographs of classmates to create sexualized images, which were then shared. And in Spain, parents of more than 20 girls between the ages of 11 and 17 say their children’s photos were altered using artificial intelligence tools to create sexual images.

AI tools “now need just one image,” says Wael Abd-Almageed, distinguished senior scientist and research director at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute. “You can train the AI ​​to detect someone’s facial features, so if the AI ​​can detect a child’s facial features, you can replace them in a video.”

How much can you really eliminate?

There is no magic eraser button to erase every image or video of someone on the internet. If you already know what you want to delete, it’s easier. But if it is a child whose image has been widely shared, tracking everything will take a long time or even be impossible.

“What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet. It can never disappear,” said Abd-Almageed.

Images and videos are shared over and over again, backed up and archived by companies, or saved and shared in encrypted chats or on the dark web, he said. Even removing a photo of a minor from Google search results does not actually remove it from the Internet. It will continue to exist on the site that hosted it.

Whether it’s cleaning up the past or controlling the future, keeping all of a child’s data off the Internet is also a big commitment and may be unrealistic for most families.

“It may not be a level of surveillance that most of us can live with right now,” said Devorah Heitner, author of “Growing Up in Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World.” Instead, she suggests looking to the future and giving your child a say in whether and where her image appears online.

What is the process for Google, TikTok, Facebook?

Most large technology companies have a system for requesting image removal. We’ve put together the basics of Google, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. There are always exceptions and not all photos can be deleted. As your children get older, you may also have problems because they want to share more than you are comfortable with; Most services will allow minors to create their own accounts as long as they are 13 or older.

Google Search, Photos, Drive: A minor, their guardian, or someone authorized to act on their behalf, such as an attorney, can request that content (an image, video, or text) be removed from Google Search results using this form. There are some limitations. It only removes content from Google results, but they will still exist on the original site. Google will not remove content if it is on its own social media page and may reject requests if the images are of public interest (for example, a child is a public figure or the photo is from a newsworthy event). The process usually takes a few days. If the image is on Google Photos, you can report it here and on Google Drive here. If it’s a photo that was deleted but still appears in search results, use this tool.

Youtube: If there is a child’s video on YouTube, the child or their representative can complete a request to remove it here. YouTube is adding AI-generated materials to its policies so you can more easily request removal, too.

Facebook and Instagram: These social media sites will only allow parents to request removal of content for those under 13 years of age. If a child is between 13 and 17 years old, they must apply themselves. Links to the Facebook forms are here and the Instagram forms are here.

Tik Tok: If you would like to request that TikTok remove a video of a minor, the person represented or their guardian must complete this privacy form. Select “report a privacy violation” from the drop-down menu. Posting a minor without their permission doesn’t automatically violate the company’s community guidelines, but if it’s flagged, the company says it should be removed.

How do you find the images you want to delete?

Start with Google searches for their names, check their social media accounts, those of their family members, and the schools or clubs they have belonged to. If you are looking for copies of a specific image, try performing a reverse image search. Go to images.google.com and click on the camera icon to search by image.

Several controversial face detection companies, such as Clearview AI and PimEyes, can take an image of a person and find matches on the internet. Unfortunately, they are not designed to be useful for people trying to control their own privacy. PimEyes is available to the public, but recently said it would no longer include faces that its artificial intelligence systems flag as minors. Clearview AI says its database is intended for entities such as law enforcement, not individuals.

There is little to no legislation preventing companies from searching the web for images. However, there are state privacy laws you can use to get a list of images from these sites in California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Virginia. First, submit a request to access your or your child’s information: here is the PimEyes link and here is the Clearview link. You should recover a file showing all the images you found and the sites where they are hosted. You can then go directly to those sites to request that the images be removed. When you’re done, make another request, but this time to delete all your data.

What can you do in the future?

It’s easier to set rules for sharing in the future than to clean up the past. For younger children, this responsibility will fall to the adults around them.

Share images and videos of your children only privately. The safest way is in encrypted group chats like iMessage or Apple’s Signal. If you prefer a broader social media reach, you can post family photos with blurred faces or use “disappearing” options like Instagram Stories. Clearly communicate your preferences to your family members, such as letting grandpa know that you don’t want him to share baby photos on Facebook.

With high schools at the center of these first AI scandals, consider where students find photos of others. As children join different programs, schools and activities, guardians will be given photo release forms to sign. You can opt out of all of these if you wish, or just those that want to use images publicly rather than in closed groups.

Once they enter their tweens and teens, you’ll probably have to leave some of these decisions up to the kids themselves. Give them all the information and support they’ll need to make good decisions, in case they ever want to start a YouTube channel or even just show up on a friend’s Instagram feed.

“There comes a point where I think we’re all on the Internet,” Heitner said. “Giving children the power and control over when they post about themselves gives them autonomy over their own reputation; There can be all kinds of reasons why they don’t want us to publish certain things, and it’s important that they can trust us not to. violate your privacy.”

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