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Photos, Head Shots, Avatars, Comments and Answers on HubPages

Updated on February 3, 2013

Head Shot Or Avatar?

Our Hubber Claudia Tello asked the interesting question that many readers have - Why do some members of HubPages and other Interent writing sites fail to use a personal photo? After I wrote my short answer and read the many other good answers, I was reminded of several addtional situations in which people did not want to be recognized - at least one was truly life or death in nature.

Some valid reasons exist for not using a personal photo, a correct name, and especaially one's home address and phone number, credit card numbers, and other personal information. These are even more important flor young people that use the Internet, but they can apply to adults. Comme with me as I remember some interesting cases...

The Internet can be a web of many kinds, good and bad.
The Internet can be a web of many kinds, good and bad. | Source

Stalking and Other Threats To Life

My employer in the mid-2000s allowed me to operate a program that trained new receptionists for our community and several woman and one man completed it and found full time empoloyment. They were all able to leave the public assistance rolls and improve their lives and that of of their families. For that we were all grateful. One of the final components was to run the front desk of the company for two weeks.

One of the women in the receptionist's program had been stalked by a man who was just released from prison after serving time for violent crimes, with stalking part of his infractions. The woman was frightened, but wanted to complete her training, so she devised a cover name that she used when answering the phone. In fact, we had learned that several area call centers allow workers to use a "telephone name" like this in order to protect themselves when needed. In addition, our receptionist trainee uased a generic public domain photograph of another woman as her avatar on websites she frequented.

We had a security guard in the lobby at all times who was advised of the problem and was on the lookout for the stalker, who would have been a trespasser in our building. The stalker did call by phone once, but never showed up on the premises.

A Point to Remember

Since there are computer programs that allow us to search the Internet by photograph, it was vital that our receptionist trainee not use her own photo on the web, especially not on the company site, which could draw the stalker directly to the woman at work and endanger her life.

NOTE: After the situation mentioned above abated, a far worse case occurred in our town. A violent offender was released from a high security prison in the East. He found his ex-wife on the Internet while using the prison computer lab. The morning following his release, he met her in her driveway as she was about to enter her vehicle to proceed to work, and stabbed her 17 times, to death.

There probably is no one following you.
There probably is no one following you. | Source

Fraud and ID Theft

Fraud and Identity Theft are additional reasons to protect one's personal photo and information on the Internet.

My own situation was two fold. First, it included a small group of people in a different country that copied my photo from an Internet page and used it to attempt to falsify a few passports. Thankfully, these persons were intercepted before harm was done.

Secondly, in another country far away, the photo was used to falsify and to sell martial arts belt rank certificates. In that case, reportedly the market for such certificates was not large and dwindled away quite quickly.

A Point to Remember

If you use an actual photo of yourself on the Internet, a head and shoulders view looking straight into the camera is easier to use on a passport than any other view. Other angles of view might be used on other credentials.


Comments and Answers and Mail Order Brides

This HubPages Question is quite interesting to consider. Many people think that there is something wrong, evasive, or selfish about people who will not post their personal images on the Internet. Some people do use avatars other than their own face in order to scam the public. Hopefully we have few or none of these on HubPages. As I described in the cases above, there are other reasons not to use a personal photo, and I feel that these reasons are valid.

Every time you answer a question or make a comment on HubPages or elsewhere on many websites, your personal image or avatar appears with your post and helps to build an Internet Presence. That can be a very good thing. However, if you need to protect yourself from a stalker, that can be a detrimental and even deadly thing. You can choose another avatar or refrain from using the Internet to build a presence or to make an income. In these times of employment difficulties, the Internet is the only hope for some people to make an income.

Another case that comes to mind is that of a group of people that lifted photos of good looking people from across the Internet and posted them to a mail order bride, dating, and similar website. Readers and date seekers were fooled and ended up meeting dates and brides whose appearance was nothing like the photo. Personal photos can be used for any number of odd and unethical reasons.

I conclude with a new trend I've seen on a few Interent sites - Some individuals are posting as avatars, full body images of themselves in states of various levels of undress, some of them very undressed. Perhaps this might be a type of self promotion and it might not be wise, especially when the individual is not attractive.

A Point To Consider

The best practice in criticizing avatar vs. personal photo image posting is to read the avatar-posting Hubs and comments and if they appear like spam, scams, or trolling, then ignore them or report them. Perhaps the others that use avatars instead of actual head shots have an important reason to do so.

Famous people cannot help having their images posted to the public, although some laws limit the use of their personal images. The rest of us could perhaps be viewed more charitably if we do not use our own likenesses.

5 stars for Valid Reasons for Protecting One's Likeness

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