For babies, Facebook is a bizarre concept. The little blobs can’t even begin to comprehend its existence, yet for many, Facebook becomes a sort of interactive life-logging scrapbook that they will one day inherit, whether they like it or not. In the meantime, Baby plays a central role in Mommy and Daddy’s social media life. Facebook knows this. That’s why they’re fine-tuning the way babies appear on the site.
Today Facebook is launching Scrapbook, a new feature that gives babies a more formalized presence on Facebook–without the need to set up actual profiles for newborns. With Scrapbook, parents can effectively claim their kids as their own and unlock the ability to tag them in photos. Nobody but the parents will wield such baby-tagging powers.
Of course, if you’ve ever logged into Facebook even once, you know that there’s all sorts of baby content already flooding the place. To date, the most anyone could do to identify and organize those pics was tag the parents. That very workaround results in a side effect that often elicits groans: too many baby pictures on Facebook.
With Scrapbook, people can opt to follow the albums focused on documenting your child’s early days. So while it might not stem the flood of baby pictures that get posted, this update should at least help filter them in a more relevant fashion.
Aside from being a potential irritant to those not interested (however delightful it may be to others), the act of posting photos of young children online presents its own ethical and privacy-related questions. Our obsessive tendency to document and share parts of our lives–especially the very cute parts–is now a knee-jerk behavior that doesn’t always take into account what it might mean for these kids down the line. Is it okay to post pictures of other people’s babies online? What’s the deal with this bizarre mini-trend of “baby role-playing” on Instagram? What happens when these kids come of age and have a trove of childhood photos sitting on some company’s servers?
However these things pan out, one thing is for sure: We’re not going to stop whipping out our smartphones every time a newborn makes an adorable new facial expression. The least we can do is try to keep it all organized.