This week, I made the decision to delete the majority of my 2k followers on Instagram. I know this isn’t an “influencer” worthy number of followers but the majority of them were strangers and not people who need access to my family’s life.
Social media security is not new to me. Even from the early years of Facebook, I limited who could see my posts. I locked things down even further when I was contacted by a friend who told me an ex-girlfriend of the guy I was dating at the time was looking at my pictures after realizing she had a friend who was friends with one of our friends and that whole “friends of friends” security setting allowed her to peep into my life. It was minor but I felt violated and made sure only people I was actually friends with could see my pictures and only friends of friends could add me. When I started working I had co-workers say they couldn’t find me on Facebook — and it was intentional.
I am always careful not to post where we are vacationing — or tagging locations where we are until long after we are gone. The chances of someone wanting to find us there are slim but it’s my job to protect my little one and I don’t ever want to be the reason he isn’t safe.
On that note, I’m careful not to post his full name, birth stats or identifying details. I regret that I once shared monthly updates with milestones. Every year I cringe when I see people sharing pictures with their kid’s school and/or teacher names listed. I even blur out my kid’s school logo on his shirt if I happen to share a picture where he’s wearing it. I never post embarrassing pictures of him crying or naked or in the bathtub. I don’t ever want him to be upset at something I’ve shared. And if he were to ever tell me not to share something, I would respect that.
You may be wondering what sparked this for me this week? I read a post by Olive & Tate and while she has significantly more followers than me now, at the time of her blog she had 2k and she was taking precautions. While I feel like I’ve been doing some stuff right, I know I can be better and safer while still sharing pictures and fun with those I WANT to see them and blogging in a safe way to a broader audience.
As I manually removed followers, I found some that were questionable. And for the most part, I thought I’d been reviewing every time someone followed me but obviously a few slipped thru. I even found an old account of a friend who had been hacked and while the name was the same, the pictures were not.
I am careful in other parts of my life — so why not Instagram? I don’t share my running routes publicly (or run the same route in a row). I don’t share pictures of my house or even my neighborhood usually. I’ve always been reluctant to do a house tour — no need to give people the full layout of your home. I don’t have those stickers on my car showing how many people are in my family or what type of dog I have. I don’t have a personalized license plate (anymore — I 100% did in high school and college). We’ve even asked our parents to not share excessive details, locations or tub pictures. Obviously this is a personal choice for everyone on how much you share — but for us, this feels right. I do not have a business I need followers for and I’m not selling things via swipe up (you need 10k followers for that) so therefore I don’t need all these people following me.
If you want to be a little more careful, too — you can use this checklist for your own social media posts. Geotagging is a dead giveaway for where you are (beaches, resorts, restaurants…) but so are identifying landmarks in the background of your pictures (or stories on Instagram). I love monograms as much as the next person but I won’t be putting my kid’s name on his luggage or backpack for school. And I’ll keep declining new followers that I don’t know. And I’ll keep being that squeaky wheel that asks family members and friends don’t share photos/locations that we’d prefer to be private.
Maybe I sound paranoid but I don’t think we can be too safe when it comes to our kids. What goes on the internet can live on forever. You might delete it but you don’t know who took a screenshot before you did that. As I look at my much smaller number of followers, I have no regrets on clicking “remove” and feel better knowing the people following me actually know us.