This week, actress Olivia Wilde posted a picture of her toddler’s naked bottom on social media. The photograph has stirred up controversy, and questions about the obligation of parents to protect their children’s images.

The original post was of her son from behind, naked and wearing a cowboy hat. She captioned the photo “Naked Cowboy”. After the picture faced intense scrutiny from social media users, she retitled the photo “Naked Cowboy. (Apparently unsuitable for those unaware that humans have butts)”.

(Image: oliviawilde/Instagram)

While many people liked the photo and posted nice comments, there were serious calls for the actress to keep those photos private for fear of predators enjoying them too much.

The Huffington Post article on the topic shared the comments of blogger Theresa Edwards in defense of Wilde. Edwards noted that our privacy can be violated anytime we are in public and yet we are irrationally more afraid of that happening on the internet:

“Sure, more people have access to your images, but the normal person-to-pervert ratio remains about the same. It’s ridiculous that the first place people go when they see a cute picture of a baby is ‘that’s sick’ instead of ‘that’s cute.’”

But any person with a large online following is greatly increasing the number of people who see the child’s image by placing it online. And that does bring into question the responsibility of the parent to protect a child’s image, not only from predators, but also for the sake of the child’s future privacy.

Do you think the negative feedback to Wilde’s photo is an unnecessary, fear-based overreaction? Or, do you think today’s parents need to exercise a greater amount of caution when posting pictures of their children on the internet?

Image: Patrick Demarchelier/Glamour