Whilst posting photographs of your children on social media will probably not have been an issue when you were a couple, after separation, and no longer having the same level of control, it can be difficult to resolve. This article sets out the law around this area and considers what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.
There are certain matters connected to the child which require the consent of all those holding parental responsibility, such as changing a child’s school or surname, or moving them to another country. However, the issue regarding posting photographs of children on social media is not specifically addressed by parental responsibility.
Communicating with your ex about posting pictures on social media
If possible, try to discuss the matter with your ex and devise a set of rules you are both happy to stick with. Perhaps any photographs or videos of the children may only be posted from each parent’s account and no one else’s, including grandparents or friends, or content can only be shared with a specific group of people from a shared friends list, for example. Whatever you decide, it is always better to compromise and agree than potentially spend months in court.
What if my ex won’t stop posting photographs on social media?
If you cannot agree a set of ground rules, it is possible to attempt to have any content posted by the other parent, removed. Specific rules and regulations are unique to each social media platform, and you would need to check to see what is allowable. You may also be able to present an argument based on privacy laws.
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights sets out rights in respect of private, family life, home, and correspondence. It may therefore be possible to make the case that taking and then posting photographs without permission could infringe the child’s privacy.
There is a test to apply if you are relying on Article 8, namely “whether in respect of the disclosed facts, the person in question had a reasonable expectation of privacy”. Other factors include the nature of the activity being complained of, where it happened, the absence of permission and if it could have been known or inferred, and any effect on the person claiming.
Data protection law could also provide a further course of action to prevent the publication of any images. “Personal data” under the UK GDPR refers to any information relating to an identifiable or identified person (the data subject). So, a photograph of an identifiable child is likely to be considered personal data and caught by GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, which safeguards the processing of children’s personal data.
Whilst this legislation can be used to attempt to force social media platforms into removing images of your child, it is likely to be a lengthy and thankless task, especially if your ex persists in posting because as soon as you have cut one head off the hydra, another appears.
Can I apply to court for a prohibited steps order?
Realistically, there is not much that can be done to stop your ex posting photographs of your children, but you have the option of applying to court for a prohibited steps order. This is an order the court can make to prevent one parent with parental responsibility from doing the thing being complained about. However, this can be time consuming and expensive, both emotionally and financially, and the court may be reluctant to infringe one parent’s right to feature their children on social media. Unless you can show the court that it is affecting the child’s welfare, emotional state, or having any other detrimental effect, it is unlikely it would be successful.
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