parents

Have you ever put a picture of your child online? Their face may now be on a stranger's coffee mug.

Do you put pictures of your child online? Then their face might well end up on one of these one day.

If you have ever uploaded a picture of your child on Flickr then someone could be drinking coffee out of a mug with their face on it right now.

And it’s totally legal, due to privacy settings on the social media site.

Dutch journalist Dimitri Tokmetzis and designer Yuri Veerman started the website Koppie Koppie, which sells 61 different mugs with images of random children from Flickr.

“Koppie, Koppie” means “think, think!” in Dutch and was created to highlight just how complex online privacy has become.

KidsMugs
The Koppie Koppie homepage with some of the mugs available. Image via Koppie Koppie.

Flickr users are able to select the option to share their photos freely under certain Creative Common licences, which means images can be used for commercial use without payment.

However, the sites default setting is “all rights reserved”, meaning most images cannot be used without written permission.

Read more: Sexting, bullying and privacy – how to keep your kids safe online.

Described as a social experiment, the Dutch duo are making 90 cents per mug sold, which has led to some slamming the project as creepy and an intentional violation of privacy.

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But Tokmetzi’s wrote on website De Correspondent that it was created purely to highlight how rapidly privacy settings are changing on social media and just how much we don’t understand about the control these companies have over our data.

“With Koppie Koppie, we have deliberately shifted the context. On the “sending” end of the information flow, we have the photographers. The information that is transmitted are the pictures of their children. Initially, the recipients who saw those pictures were all users of Flickr — family members, friends, or maybe other amateur photographers. But by shifting the flow of information to a commercial platform, the recipients are now anyone who might be interested in buying a mug that has a picture of a kid on it.”

KIdsonMugs
More kids on mug. Image via Koppie Koppie.

And it’s not just Flickr that Tokmetzi’s is referring to. Facebook, YouTube and Google can also re-use images and videos uploaded to their platforms.

“The moment you post something on Facebook or YouTube, you enter into a contract with that company,” he wrote on De Correspondent. 

“From then on, they’re free to benefit from your material in any way they see fit, mainly by selling ads around it, but in some cases by selling your data, or using your avatar and other personal information for commercial purposes.”

If you are one of the parents whose image of your child has ended up on the website, you’re able to request for it to be taken down simply by emailing [email protected]

What do you think – is this an effective social experiment or a creepy joke?