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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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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      5 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for that link and I have shared your Hub that you mentioned. It is timely and much-needed. Some folks berate us for not using actual photos of oursevles, but I am sticking to my decision.

    • LongTimeMother profile image


      5 years ago from Australia

      Hi Patty. It would be great to live in a world where everyone can be trusted. Unfortunately we don't.

      This hub clearly illustrates why everyone needs to be careful of providing too much information, which is why I linked to it from one of mine. :)

      Voted up +.

    • laidbacklady profile image


      6 years ago from Plumsted Township, NJ

      Great hub, Patty! Thank you for your understanding of those who use avatars instead of actual pictures of ourselves. I have used my likeness on Google, but have often thought that was not such a good idea. The only reason I use it on there is so that "Circles" can show my face to possible acquaintances so they can be sure I am the person they are looking to say hello to. I may yet remove my photo, but so far have not gotten around to it.

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting. As always!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Great points patty, I do use my photo, but its oldish now, and I never use my real name. we do forget that other people read our work, copy it and whatever else they can think of. I tend to use public domain photos purely because I have a rubbish camera, and my phone is useless, but I think I would still prefer to use online photos.

    • CarNoobz profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      My Hubpages wish is that someday we may all be as skinny and beautiful as our avatars make us out to be LOL

      Voted up, Patty. =)

    • Anna Evanswood profile image


      6 years ago from Malaysia

      Thank you for this hub! I choose to use an Avatar as I am a teacher and I don't want my image out in cyberspace. So as you have so rightly stated there can be good reasons for choosing an avatar or picture:)

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      6 years ago from UK

      Very interesting hub, with a lot of points to consider. I felt very uncomfortable about using a photo, so I used a sandcastle as my avatar for the first year I was on Hubpages. But eventually I came out of hiding - but at a distance! Like poshcoffeeco I have sunglasses on, but that wasn't a deliberate attempt to avoid identity theft, partly it was not wanting to reveal too much of myself, and partly it was the only decent recent photo I could find! Now I'm glad I chose it because I don't think anyone could make much use of my photo. Fortunately I have no homicidal exes!

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 

      6 years ago from Atlanta

      Great Hub! I have never considered the facts that someone would use an image from the internet to use or a passport. I have learned a lot from reading on this topic. I never stopped to think of the reasons why some use an avatar and not a head shot. This is great food for thought. Voted up and interesting!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for sharing this Hub, because I think it will help a lot of people to understand and perhaps even help some Internet users to refrain from being critical-gossipy about the phenomenon.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Excellent hub here and one that we all should not take lightly. Thanks for this very thought-provoking and insightful hub here. I have always pondered the reason behind not using one's own photo, and I have experienced a bit of what you have discussed here. It is pretty scary when you think about it.

      I couldn't rate this hub as far as the stars, but I am voting it up and sharing.

      God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      He could use a paddlewheeler image!

    • bankscottage profile image

      Mark Shulkosky 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      For a modern day writer an avatar or other image could be similar to a pen name. If Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) wrote now, what image would he use on his HubPage? He didn't use his own name when he wrote, would he use his own image on the internet?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      What a deligthful bunch of answers you all have posted!

      carol7777 -- I though it was pretty important and that many people might not know some of the dangerous back stories. Thanks for commenting and rating.

      drbj - Thabnsk for visiting and commenting!

      poshcoffeeco -- That's a nice name. Sunglasses is a good idea to use as well, one I'd not thought of.

      fpherj48 -- Yes, snakes with cameras. Perhaps you're famous, whether you want to be or not! Thanks very much or your delightful comment.

      tillsontitan -- That was just me rating the idea that there really are good reasons not to use a photo. I'm glad you think so, too. Thanks for commenting!

      CJ Sledgehammer -- Are you the star of the former TV series "Sledgehammer"? lol You and I have the same ideas of Internet use.

    • profile image

      CJ Sledgehammer 

      6 years ago

      Excellent article, Patty, you pretty much said it all and echo my sentiments!!! :0)

      Fact is, I am an individual who deeply regards his privacy. I don't mind sharing ideas, answering questions, and allowing others a glimpse of my inner workings, but I just don't know what can be gained by showing them my outer hide.

      I realize there are many different motivations that inspire people to join social networks like Hubpages. Some are here to make money, some are here to "hook up", while others are here to make friends, etcetera. I just want to exchange ideas and that doesn't necessitate a mug shot.

      Best wishes and be well - C.J. Sledgehammer

      Voted up and away!!!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      You make excellent points that many people do not take into consideration. Sometimes it is a bad thing to plaster your face all over the Internet and you've given specific reasons why. I think this hub will help others be more tolerant and understanding and will stand as a warning to those in dangerous situations. If we were supposed to rate this please know I could not. For whatever reason I could not click on the fifth star (or any star), however, I did vote up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Oh....great, Patty.....NOW you tell me. The snakes are everywhere, aren't they? Now, you have me wondering, how many countries I've traveled to, without enjoying the sights.

      And I thought it was problem enough to find myself in the middle of a huge department store, and have no idea, WHY the hell I was there.

      I don't need this stress.............but, honestly, your hub is wonderful information, for those who still have chance at remaining anonymous.

      I guess I don't need to sign this. After all, you have my photo.....UP++

    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 

      6 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      Thanks for this interesting information. My profile picture shows me wearing sunglasses. I use this type of picture so it can't be used elsewhere or for anyone to fraudulently use it, say as a passport photo. It also hides a little bit of me from view . A little mysterious.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Interesting points about posting avatars, photos and personal info, Patty. Thanks for the useful reminders.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Well written and covered many questions and issues that exist. Voting UP and sharing around.


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