Parents in France could be blocked from posting images of their children online due to a new law designed to protect their offspring from being humiliated and targeted by sex offenders.
According to Le Monde, the new bill seeks to tackle so-called “sharenting”, a term deriving from “sharing” and “parenting” and which describes the growing trend of posting images of children on social media giants such as TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.
The bill, which was filed by MP Bruno Studer, who is part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party, seeks to protect children’s right to privacy amid concerns for them facing abuse in the future.
“A 13-year-old child has an average of 1,300 images of themself circulating on the internet. These are photos that can be misused for child pornography or that can lead to bullying in the school environment,” Mr Studer was quoted saying by the French newspaper.
The report also mentioned findings that half of the images exchanged on child pornography forums originally come from parents who posted them on their social media pages.
Social media platforms have become saturated with reels of children being involved in all kinds of pranks and memes, such as the “cheese challenge”, which sees toddlers being filmed while slapped in the face with a slice of cheese.
Other pranks described children being told the “child police” was coming to get them and filming their reaction, Le Monde reported.
According to Thomas Rohmer, director and founder of l’Observatoire de la Parentalité et de l’Education Numérique (OPEN), the bill fails to expand on the impact such activities have on children’s dignity.
It “goes in the right direction, but we think it doesn’t go far enough, especially in the terms that are used. We talk a lot about image rights, but not about children’s dignity,” he was quoted saying by Le Monde.
“When you see that some parents influencers earn their living by throwing a spoonful of purée in their baby’s face, we can legitimately talk about indignity.”
Research from the organisation claimed that more than half of French parents have posted pictures of their children on social media with 90 per cent of those doing so before the child was five.
“These practices amount to digital violence while the battle was successfully fought to get rid of spanking and other humiliating practices,” Mr Rohmer said.
Part of the bill seeks to establish protection of children’s privacy as a responsibility of parents, who must ensure the involvement of the infant.
Under extreme cases, a family judge could strip parents of their authority in terms of image rights “if the dissemination of the child’s image by both parents seriously affects the child’s dignity or moral integrity.”
France’s Assemblé Nationale voted in favour of the bill on Monday according to The Local, however it still needs to be passed through the French Senate before it becomes law.