Nadja Kirchhof


#ShareWithCare: Photos of children require special protection online

  • Deutsche Telekom triggers international debate on sharing photos of children online with a deepfake video
  • The #ShareWithCare initiative aims to raise awareness for a responsible approach 
  • Survey shows that only a third of parents are aware of the potential danger of photo misuse
Children's images deserve protection on the net.

Children's images deserve protection on the net. © Deutsche Telekom

With its #ShareWithCare awareness campaign, Deutsche Telekom has sparked an international debate about sharing children's photos online. Over a million people have watched the powerful deepfake video "A Message from Ella" on YouTube so far. The Initiative now starting here in Germany with a German version of the video and accompanying measures. The company's aim is to raise awareness of how important it is to protect photos and data of children and to offer help.

The video of fictitious “Ella” created using AI is an exaggerated presentation of a real problem: “Sharenting”.* The term refers to the posting of children’s photos or videos on social media. Studies show that a five-year child has an average of 1,500 photos online – posted without consent by the people they trust the most: their parents. Experts also anticipate that two-thirds of all identity thefts will be linked to sharenting by 2030 (source: The New Yorker). 


Despite safety concerns: The majority of parents share photos of their children online 

Every single person who carelessly shares photos or videos of children online runs the risk of unintentionally exposing their children to profiling by data traders, hacking, face recognition, pedophiles, and other threats to children's privacy and safety. However, only very few people are aware of these dangers. This was illustrated in a recent survey** with parents of children aged between 0 and 14 carried out on behalf of Deutsche Telekom. 

Here are some of the results of the survey: 

  • Sharing photos of children on the internet is a widespread phenomenon: 86 percent of parents share photos and videos of their offspring online.
  • The younger the children, the more often their closest relatives share photos or videos of them: 70 percent of parents share photos of their children aged 5 and under at least once a week via messaging services (this is 59 percent for children aged 6-9, and 46 percent for children aged 10-14).
  • Only a third of parents are aware that one photo is enough for the child to fall victim to identity theft.
  • 85 percent of those surveyed trust the recipients of the shared photos to not forward them to other people.
  • On the other hand, 65 percent don’t know what happened to the photos and videos of their children.

Thereis a lot of uncertainty. Consequently, 61 percent of those surveyed are greatly interested in obtaining more information about the dangers and risks associated with sharing photos and videos of their children. 

Raising awareness to protect children

With its campaign, Deutsche Telekom hopes to fulfill this wish for more awareness and specific support. The #ShareWithCare campaign has the following to offer for everybody who wishes to protect the privacy of children and minimize digital risks:

  • With the Teachtoday initiative, Deutsche Telekom wants to promote the safe and competent use of media and helps children and young people, parents and grandparents, as well as educational professionals with practical, everyday tips and materials from the Teachtoday Toolbox.
  • It’s also important to raise the children’s own awareness. The target group of children aged between 9-12 can find comprehensive information in the current edition “Faszination KI” [“Fascinated by AI”] of the Scroller online magazine.
  • Telekom Security GmbH shares its expertise on topics such as information security and data privacy with customers and interested parties in the “Digitally secure” guide book. Using central basic rules and everyday tips, the page raises awareness about risks online and provides concrete help in order to counteract such risks.
  • With its DsiN digital driving license (DiFü), the “Deutschland sicher im Netz” [Making Germany safe on the Net] initiative offers an extensive training and qualification program that is recognized throughout Germany. It enables people of all ages to learn skills to use digital content safely so they can confidently make use of digital services in their private and work lives.

Deepfake video “A Message from Ella / Without Consent” 

The video “A Message from Ella / Without Consent” will go live on September 4 and will continue to be broadcast as part of a social media campaign. The video will also be shown in selected movie theaters starting September 7. Deutsche Telekom hopes this will raise awareness among even more people with respect to children’s photos and data online. For the video, a deepfake of 9-year-old Ella was created using the latest AI technology. Deepfakes are videos, pictures, or even audio files that are artificially created using machine learning. In the video, the “grown-up” Ella speaks to her surprised parents and confronts them with the consequences of sharing photos of their child online. Here, Ella is representing a whole generation of children.

German version of the ad on YouTube 
Further information: #ShareWithCare

* “Sharenting” is a portmanteau of “sharing” and “parenting”, and the term refers to the posting of children’s photos or videos on social media.
** Representative online survey by KB&B Family Marketing Experts. 795 parents of children aged between 0-14 were surveyed. The survey took place between July 27 and August 1, 2023.

About Deutsche Telekom: Deutsche Telekom Group profile

Mother takes a picture of her child with her cell phone.

Be careful when sharing children's photos

When parents share photos of their children online, it is referred to as "sharenting." Parents should proceed with caution when doing so.