The Dangerous Consequences of Posting Pics, and 3 Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself

Today, almost everybody has an Internet-connected camera in their pocket. A crazy amount of photos are posted online. In fact, Facebook alone claims to have over 250 billion photos, with 350 million user images posted every day. All of these pictures are fun, but how do you ensure that only the people you want to see your photos are seeing them?

The Dangers of Not Taking Picture Privacy Seriously
A publicly posted photo is in danger of being ripped off and used for a variety of purposes, ranging from not-so-good to disturbing. One story that has reached urban-legend status comes from an American family vacationing in Europe. As they shopped the winding cobblestone streets far from home, they came across a storefront with a picture of them used as an advertisement. The picture is one that they posted online, and apparently, the European shop owner simply searched the web for a picture of a happy family to use for his store’s advertisement. He came across their pic and then downloaded it, thinking that he was within his rights.

This story is mild compared to what sexual predators do with pictures that are publicly posted to the web. A posted picture of you wearing a revealing outfit can be downloaded and circulated on some shady websites, and it gets worse when pictures of children are involved. Think twice before publicly posting a pic of your kids at the pool.

As bad as that is, it gets worse. Digital pictures contain metadata called geotags that can inform a predator of where the picture was snapped. After looking into multiple posted pics of you with geotags, a predator can figure out the routine of your family and break into your home, or even kidnap your child. Yikes!

Here are three tips you can take to safeguard the pictures you post on the Internet so that only your trusted friends can see them.

Keep Sensitive Photos Private
When you post to social media websites like Facebook and Instagram, you can control who views your photo. On Facebook, you can adjust the settings so that only your friends can see your photos. If you’re concerned about the wrong people viewing your photos, then you will want to be extra careful about who you “friend” on Facebook. On Instagram, you can set your postings to private, which will only allow approved followers to view your pics.

Remove Geotags
Geotags were designed to be an easy way to investigate your photos in order to find out where they were taken. This is a handy feature when going through a memory card full of vacation pics. However, like many good things on the Internet, the bad guys have figured out how to use this tool too. Social media websites like Facebook will automatically remove a photo’s metadata, but other picture websites like Flickr, Picasa, and your own website or blog will keep the data attached to the pic. Be aware of this risk and be sure to remove a photo’s metadata before posting it.

Remove Tags
Social media sites like Facebook give other users the ability to tag you in their photos. With everybody carrying a camera, it’s virtually impossible not to have someone post a picture of you online–unless you become antisocial and never leave your home. One thing you can do is to remove your name from the photos you’re tagged in. Due to the possibility that you can be tagged by any friend at any time, you will want to check in regularly with your social media account in order to catch and remove any unwanted tags. Whenever you’re tagged, Facebook notifies you about it, allowing you to easily catch tags of yourself. Additionally, if the photo is just plain embarrassing, you can ask your friend to remove it.

The best way to keep your photos out of the wrong hands is to be informed and vigilant about maintaining your online privacy. For more tips on Internet security that can be used to protect yourself, your family, and your business, give Think Tank NTG a call at 800-501-DATA.

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