We’ve been telling people for years not to put pictures of your children up online on the Internet. Nobody ever believes us that perfect strangers will not only find those pictures, but do inappropriate things with them. Now here’s a real-life example of this happening. In the instant case, Jeff and Danielle Smith are lucky that “all” that was done with the picture of their children is that it was blown up bigger than lifesize, and used in an advertisement half-way around the world.
The Missouri couple is also very lucky that they just happened to have a friend visiting in Czechoslovakia, as it was in the Czech capital of Prague that their children ended up as, quite literally, the poster children for a Czech grocery store.
The Smiths’ friend was driving through Prague, when he caught sight of a sign in a store window featuring the smiling – and familiar – faces of a happy couple and their two children. Recognizing the picture as that which had adorned his friends Jeff and Danielle Smiths’ Christmas card that last Christmas – and which Danielle had also posted to her blog – he quickly snapped a picture of the sign and sent it to the Smiths.
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Said a shocked Danielle, whose blog and own account of the incident are here, “It’s a life-size picture in a grocery store window in Prague – my Christmas card photo!” adding that “This story doesn’t frighten me, but the potential frightens me.”
The owner of the store has offered to apologize, and remove the photo. He claims that he thought it was “computer generated” artwork.
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For their part, the Smiths have said that they will add an identifying mark – such as a watermark – to any pictures they post online from now on.
Of course, our advice would be that they don’t post those pictures at all. Especially now that people know where to find them (and even the names of the children are out there). The potential is very frightening indeed.
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