Protecting Your Personal Photos Online
Protecting Your Personal Photos Online
Scrolling through your news feed on any given day, you are probably accosted by photos of friends, family and even distant acquaintances. You’ve seen their children’s faces so many times that you could probably recognize them on the street, even if you’ve never met them in real life. And you feel like you were at their wedding, even though you were 3,000 miles away and trapped in a snowstorm.
The pictures people post online invite us into their lives. They make us feel like we know them all the more intimately. And sometimes, this can be a great thing. When distance or time separate us from being able to see those we love most as often as we would like, having those pictures to reference can make us feel like we aren’t quite so disconnected. And so, we also share our photos with abandon – wanting to extend the same courtesy to those who feel as though they don’t get to see us enough.
But then, there are the stories about all the downsides that come with a generation bent on social sharing. Photos stolen and used for other purposes (including advertisements and memes) without permission. Pedophiles lurking the internet for pictures of your children to store on their personal computers. And people losing their jobs for posting images that depict them engaging in less than professional conduct.
Sometimes, it seems, the technology has grown faster than our understanding of how to best navigate and utilize it. But if you are posting pictures online, as most everyone is these days, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to protecting those images you otherwise hold dear.
This seems obvious, but not everyone thinks about it – if you want to share your photos only with those you know, you need to make sure your privacy settings block out anyone (and everyone) else. Limit the people who can view your photos to your friends and family, and pay attention to how those privacy settings change when your social media sites change their own policies.
You may even want to consider asking friends and family to change the privacy settings for any photo that features you or your children. Most people will be open to changing the settings on a single photo, and you may prompt them to realize their security settings aren’t as tight as they would actually like them to be.
Recently, there has been an influx of stories about personal photos being lifted off of the sites they were originally posted to, and used for other purposes by parties unknown to the photographer. Companies, journalists and bloggers will do a Google search for the kind of images they want, and if yours shows up in the search results – they will assume it is fair game.
For the record, this is illegal. But that doesn’t stop it from happening. The best way to protect your photos from this is to watermark them. You can Google “Watermarking Tools” and find several options for adding a quick watermark to your images that may detour others from trying to use them.
As a photographer the watermark is my single most effective tool in controlling theft. Please never crop or remove a professional’s watermark without permission!
Instead of dumping every picture from your camera to your social media sites, consider the pros and cons of each image you share. Do your Facebook friends really need to see that picture of your little one in the tub? And is Twitter the best place to put a picture of you taking shots at the bar?
For some people, the answer will always be, “yes”. And that is perfectly acceptable, so long as you are understanding of the fact that any image you put online has the capability of spreading beyond your control – even when you are monitoring your privacy settings and watermarking. So share wisely, and with each image you post online, ask yourself how you would feel if the image itself went viral.
How would you feel if one of these were your baby?