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The dangers of putting your photo or family photos on the internet

Updated on March 30, 2014
LongTimeMother profile image

With her children's ages spanning 22 years, LongTimeMother has 40 years experience in parenting - including home schooling and foster care.

Update: March 31, 2014

National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell and NSW Privacy Commissioner Dr Elizabeth Coombs have raised this issue in the mainstream media, but the focus seems to be mainly on the potential for 'cute' kids photos to become the target of paedophiles.

Here's my discussion of the dangers, as first published in 2013 ...

Who is looking at your photos and your posts?

Every time you post on the internet, you are inviting strangers into your life.

Every time you post a photo of your family, you are potentially inviting trouble.

Wondering who is looking at your photos and posts has always been a problem for some people who would like to protect their privacy, but the dangers associated with posting personal photos on the internet is made many times worse by reverse photo search engines.


Hiding from your ex

You've gone to a lot of trouble to leave your ex behind. They drove you mad and made life really unpleasant for too many years, but you're successfully hiding from your ex and now you're free.

To escape their clutches you changed address. Perhaps to a new city or even a new state. Some folk even move to a different country just to hide from an ex partner who doesn't know how to let go.

Now that you've safely set up your new life, it is no time to become complacent. Be mindful of putting your own photo of photos of your family on the internet.


Photo of my kids from top to toe

Yes, these are two of my children and the photo is featured in a hub. Good luck finding them again in a reverse photo search engine. Anyone want to guess which beach this is? Or even which ocean? :)
Yes, these are two of my children and the photo is featured in a hub. Good luck finding them again in a reverse photo search engine. Anyone want to guess which beach this is? Or even which ocean? :) | Source

Avoiding the stalker

Someone is stalking you. It really doesn't matter who or why they've made you a target, but life gets very complicated when you wonder whether every move is being watched.

You lock yourself away and avoid strangers and vulnerable situations. The only people you see are your friends and family and they, too, are careful not to tell anyone where you are.

But then they post photos on facebook or their own website or even in a hub ... with a brief description of where you all were and what you were doing.

Your stalker runs a reverse photo search and hey, presto. There's another clue about where to look for you!


Do you post face photos on the internet?

And if you do, do you regret it?

See results

Avoiding the nutter who comes into your work

Many people work with the public. Do you? Is there a nutter who comes into your workplace and makes you feel really uncomfortable?

Have you ever locked eyes with someone who made you feel threatened and vulnerable? No reason you can explain to others; just a feeling that you wouldn't want to run into that person in the dark of night or in a deserted carpark.

Breathe a sigh of relief if you don't wear a name tag announcing where to find you in your local phone book. Phew.

And then hope that nutter hasn't taken a photo of your face, because there's every chance they'll find out who you are on the internet if they run a reverse photo search.


Have you ever helped put someone in jail?

Hmm. This is a tough one. Have you ever helped put someone in jail?

Did you give evidence? Did you call the police? Were you on a jury? Were you a police officer? Are you a prison guard?

There are so many individuals convicted of crimes who harbour grudges. Just because they are guilty, doesn't mean they take responsibility for ending up in prison.

Are cameras banned in courts?

What about phones that take photos?


The creep who keeps trying to contact your daughter

I am sure this has relevance for people with sons as well, but have you ever had an encounter with a creep who keeps trying to contact your daughter?

You can hang up the phone on an unwelcome caller, and close the door on an uninvited visitor.

But it all gets a little more messy when they spot a photo of your daughter in her sports uniform and they suddenly know what team she plays for. Therefore they also know where she'll be playing sport ... and when.

It might not even be your photo or hers that is spotted on the internet. But if it is her face ... that's all they need.


Reverse search this photo?

From another hub ... Real photo, real family members. Our friends would recognize my husband and daughter but strangers would have little chance of identifying them - or even the airport we were at.
From another hub ... Real photo, real family members. Our friends would recognize my husband and daughter but strangers would have little chance of identifying them - or even the airport we were at. | Source

Even the good can turn bad

Your extremely talented husband, wife, partner or child strikes it lucky and is discovered and made famous.

How great would that be?

Suddenly the future looks bright. You no longer have financial problems and everyone admires your famous loved one.

Groupies (for lack of a better word) start camping outside your front door and screaming for your fabulously famous family member. That could be fun for a while, don't you think?

But what about when the novelty wears off and you all just want some peace and quiet? Who is going to drive the car while the famous face hides under a blanket in the back seat if you can all be identified after a reverse photo search that shows your family together.

Hmm. That might sound like a bit of a stretch. Not likely to happen to my family, you say.

Perhaps. However I'd be willing to bet money that a similar situation unfolds in the future for at least one family reading this page. :)


Family photos on the internet

Oh look. There's a photo of me! Do you think a reverse photo search will make my identity any clearer?
Oh look. There's a photo of me! Do you think a reverse photo search will make my identity any clearer? | Source
And here's a photo of my husband. Do you really need to show the face of someone having metal clips removed from his leg?
And here's a photo of my husband. Do you really need to show the face of someone having metal clips removed from his leg? | Source

You hide your name - why not your photo?

You open an account on a website such as this one, and choose a different name.

Nobody knows who you really are so you write from the heart and shoot from the lip. Such freedom. How lovely.

But your avatar shows your smiling face in full colour. Why?

If you'd never heard of searching the internet using photos before, perhaps it is time to change that photo.

Are you sure you want to leave it there?


Protecting your children

Life might be wonderful for you today. But what about tomorrow? What does your future actually hold? Can you be certain that you'll never be actively concerned about protecting your children?

Here is a scenario that might be a little disturbing, but I suggest you consider it because you might choose to remove some of your photos now - in the hope that the images will be lost in the future ... or your children will have grown up and changed.


  1. You have your photo featured on a professional / work related website. It gives no mention of your home address or location.

  2. Some nutter gets upset by your professional conduct and decides to make you suffer.

  3. They match your photo with other photos including you alongside your children.


That's what really bothers me. School uniforms, sports uniforms, photos of the front of your house ... all those pictures that people include on the internet giving so many clues about their loved ones and their home's location.

I am just as proud of my kids as the next person, but choosing to only use photos that keep myself and my family recognizable only to people who know me well enough to identify the specifics I use on the internet is part of my strategy for protecting my children.

Call me paranoid if you like, but I lock my doors at night and I always insist my children wear a seatbelt for exactly the same reason. Protecting your children takes a little self-discipline but then it becomes routine.


Banning photos on the internet

Yes, I am that woman who bans my children from putting their photos on the internet. I ban them from using facebook until they are adults and old enough to take responsibility for their own actions. And by then, they are well aware of the potential dangers because I've made sure to highlight them over the years.

I banned my kids from blogging and facebook when blogging and facebook were brand new ... long before the invention of reverse photo search engines.

The writing was always on the wall (or the screen). It was obvious right from day one that anything put on the internet could potentially cause problems.

My friends are all aware that I don't want photos of my children or myself on the internet. Even my daughter's school knows they are not to include her in photos on the school website.

Why? Because I like to know who is looking at my children.

There are way too many nutters in the world.


© 2013 LongTimeMother

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    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 3 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Very informative hub, LTM! I don't worry too much about anyone stalking me, but who knows what nuts will do? Rather than eppie, I mean! LOL!

    • LupitaRonquillo profile image

      LupitaRonquillo 3 years ago

      Great article on the importance of being more "private" than "public." I don't understand how some people can feel so comfortable to instantly post pictures and reveal their whereabouts (facebook) for just about anyone to see!! Becoming a mother has made me ever more protective of my identity online. The internet has made it soo easy for people to "follow" you, literally. There was a time in my life when I had to literally move out of state to evade being in danger, and I thank God!!

    • PoeticFailosophy profile image

      Diana F. King-Fyre :: DECEASED, 1962-2014, Rest in Peace 3 years ago from Cuzco, Peroo

      No arguing with good advice. But some people desire notariety enough that it outweighs the risks. I've always used pen names and non-photographic avatars for my online passive income type writing. Besides, "Sue Jones" and "Mike Smith" are so much easier to spell and pronounce than my real name, and my actual mug is no beauty contest winner!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Amen to all that! You are wise and this is an extremely useful hub; every parent and child should read this. I've never liked facebook anyway but to put photos up is, frankly, asking for trouble. There are enough sick people out there, sadly, to take advantage of anything that becomes easily available. It's sad but that's the way it is.

      As you say, it's easy enough to post photos which do not give away identity or location; it just requires a little thought or maybe some cropping. Great hub! Up, useful, interesting and shared.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, Randy. I've seen your photo. I don't think you have too much to worry about! lol.

      LupitaRonquillo, I hope you are out of danger now and remain safe. It must have been a dreadful time for you.

      Poetic Failosophy, using both Sue and Mike should keep people guessing for a while at least. :)

      annart, you are very kind. Thank you for sharing this hub. I hope it alerts at least some to the dangers they may not have yet considered.

      Thanks to each of you for visiting and commenting.

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      All humans look alike to me and I am amazed that Google image search can tell them apart. But it is really impossible to conceal your identity if you are posting anywhere online. Take Poetic Failosophy, for instance. He was an easy one to nab.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      I'm betting the technology will get more accurate not less accurate with the passing of time, Writer Fox. :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Good hub LongTimeMother. We always have to be vigilant when using the Internet and this includes the posting of photos especially young children. Well written hub full of good advice. Voted up.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Great advice. I used to deal with a wide range of people in a former job, including the occasional severely mentally ill but functionally employed person. You never know what people are capable of, and sometimes people take business decisions very, very personally. Sometimes people get a bee in their bonnet over the smallest, strangest things that to you mean absolutely nothing. That's the hard part -- predicting -- because you really can't. It's preferable to select photostock closeups when you need a picture of a child's face. Very useful hub. Voted up and sharing.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 3 years ago from Canada

      Very interesting food for thought. You have made me re-think some of my postings from the past. You never can be too careful.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Although most of us probably thought of some of these issues (and I, for one, avoid Facebook altogether), we likely didn't consider all of them. Thanks for calling our attention to the possibilities posed by photographic exposure on the Internet.

      Voted Up, Useful and Interesting

      Jaye

      P.S. Just removed my photo from profile!

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, Jodah. It doesn't matter where we live in the world. This kind of issue is global. :)

      Hi FlourishAnyway. You are absolutely right. It is impossible to predict how everyone you encounter will react to professional decisions made in the course of a job.

      Thundermama, glad I could help. Nobody wants their child to become a victim but I fear many people just haven't thought this issue through yet.

      Hello, Jaye. I've been noticing changes in quite a few hubbers' profile pics. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      There is so much to consider when posting photos online. It is shame we even have to think about it but you can't be too careful. Great advice on this top concern of social media.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hello, teaches. Yes, it is a shame. Thanks for your positive feedback. :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      The dangers of putting your photo or family photos on the internet a well-advised hub, and most helpful indeed. Informative, useful and these tips should be considered before adding photos online.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hello, DDE. How wonderful that we get to communicate between Croatia and Australia. The internet certainly has many advantages! Thank you for your comment. :)

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I've never heard of this reverse photo search. Well you've creeped me out! This is certainly something to think about!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from North America

      A colleague posted my photo on the Internet several years ago and someone in a foreign country attempted to use it on a phony passport. That's why I avoid supplying my photo, exact birthdate, and address to the Internet.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 3 years ago

      I would of never thought it was possible. I will tell all the cats I know. Very informative hub.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very useful advice in this hub! One needs to be very careful while posting family pictures on the Internet.

      Informative and useful for all Internet users indeed. Thanks and voted up!

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hello Dolores. I find it creepy as well, but nowhere near as unsettling as I'd feel if someone was conducting reverse photo searches on my family. :) Certainly worth thinking about. Thanks!

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Patty, that is seriously disturbing. How did you find out they had used your details? I will search through your hub list in the hope you wrote about it. It does bother me how often people give away all the clues needed to steal their identity. Their locations, their photos, their messages saying 'I turned 30 today' combined with an internet search of their local phone book for their street address provides all the info an identity thief requires.

      The fact that your colleague posted your photo is a perfect illustration of why I discourage everyone from posting photos of my family. Thanks for sharing your experience here. :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      lol. Spread the word, Dream On. Even with nine lives, they need to be careful. It would be interesting to view the reverse photo search results of your avatar. :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the vote, ChitrangadaSharan. No matter where we are in the world, we have to be careful. :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hello again, Patty. The only hub I could spot was the one I linked to above ('Another hubber's take on photos as avatars') and it doesn't explain how you discovered the theft. If there's a more detailed hub on the topic, please point me towards it. :)

      Meanwhile, anyone who is still not convinced there are dangers associated with putting a photo on the internet should follow the link to Patty's hub. Prepare to be shocked.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from North America

      Hi, LongTimeMother -- I discovered the situation when the would-be imposter actually emailed me and asked for more personal information. The perpetrator had actually attempted to use the identities of several colleagues of mine within an association of which I am a member - we eventually learned of the attentps to use our information for passports. All the requests for passports were denied, because they were so clearly falsified - in once case, a man used a woman's photo. A more clever criminal could have been successful!

      Thanks for the link, too!

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 3 years ago from Finland

      I have thought about these things, and I have removed many personal photos from the Internet. Next time I'll probably thing twice before I post photos of my children, if I do... Good hub!

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hello, Made. There are many things to think about and I understand your new approach to posting photos of your children.

      How do we prepare young children to identify and respond to strangers when a stranger know the child's name and the names of the family pets, can describe the child's house and the family car, refers to family members by name and perhaps even produces a smiling photo of themselves in the same shot as the child's entire family. At what age can children understand computer graphics and the concept of superimposing images?

      It is extremely difficult to give children the skills and confidence to resist someone who presents evidence of being a friend of the family. It is much easier to avoid that problem in the first place.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting on this hub. Sending my best wishes from Australia to your family in Finland. :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for getting back to me, Patty. How incredible that they chose a group of people who knew each other. And how fortunate you all were they didn't get away with it! Fascinating. Please let me know if ever you write any more on this topic. I am intrigued. :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 3 years ago from North America

      I'll do that -- So many ways exist to steal ID information, it is easy to begin trusting no one.

      One way to steal ID info is embedded in some of these "essay writing" or "college paper writing" websites that desperate writers work for. Content writers supply their personal information, including a bank account number of PayPal email address and money starts disappearing. Some of these sites require that you sign an agreement that if your writing is unsatisfactory: 1) you will not be paid for a project and 2) you then have to PAY the price you would have been paid, to the website owner. What happens is that writrs pay and the clients pay as well - several clients, since the site re-sells the work several times. Clients get dinged for plagiarism afterward by professors and writers find their personl information used to steal money from their accounts, to set up credit cards in their names, etc. Writer's discussion boards are full of these nightmares.

      One Canadian essay site in Toronto set up 18 different website domains in order to escape prosecution for a while. They rotated through the domains and kept adding more. It's a racket.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Call me old-fashioned, Patty, but I expect students to write their own essays and college papers. If a student does need help though, it would make more sense to source another student who is prepared to accept cash and handle the transaction directly. That's the way it worked in the 70s and 80s. It is crazy that there's enough money in the essay writing industry for that Canadian site to carry on through 18 different websites.

      You're right. It is easy to begin trusting no one.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You are so right to be wary. Many strange things have happened. Being a former police officer, believe me, I know. The stories are not pretty for battered women, if they live to tell about it. Use common sense now that you know, please.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hello aviannovice. As a former police officer, you undoubtedly have a clearer idea of the dangers than most. Thanks for your comment. :)

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 3 years ago from Sydney

      I wish more people would consider this advice more carefully. We all seem to have forgotten the consequences of over-sharing!

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hi Marisa. Adds a whole new dimension to the expression "Too much information."

      I read on another hub that you broke your ankle a couple of weeks ago. Can only imagine how upsetting that must be for you as a dancer. I wrote a bunch of hubs when my husband broke his ankle earlier this year. There might be some clues in there to help with your recovery. We were pleasantly surprised by how quickly and effectively his ankle has repaired.

      Thanks for your comment. :)

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Besides the photo issue, it seems like we are now being penalized for hiding a name! The only way to use the Google plus feature, and get your hubs further up in the search engines, is to use your actual name.

      I wonder if the same thing is going to happen sooner or later with the Avatar.

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      This is not nso nice to kniw about, of course, but very important. I do try to keep my children out of internet, but I use some photos with silouettes or shot from behind, when I think it's needed. Great hub, well written, but the information is scary...

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hello kerlund74. We must all just do the best we can to keep our children safe. :)

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Thank LTM for the good advice about the pics. I know of someone who won't post due to problems you mentioned I have a few pics on a social network, but you have made me think twice about it. Others have posted pics of friends, sometimes creating serious issues with cell phones. It is so nice to meet you, and thanks for sharing. Pinning. Blessings. Audrey

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, brakel2. If we lived in a nicer world, this precaution wouldn't be necessary. Unfortunately newspapers are filled with tragic stories about children (and adults) who fall victim to predators who track them down. Because we don't know what the future holds, I believe it is safer to just keep a low profile. Thanks for pinning. :)

    • profile image

      Alise- Evon 3 years ago

      Very thoughtful hub, LongTimeMother. I originally did not post my face here because I wanted to be anonymous, but then I felt I needed to more fully "own" my work- not be afraid of who I was to myself or others- so I took a self-portarait and made that my profile pic. Still, you have some excellent points to consider...

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hi Alise-Evon. Anyone who includes an aloe vera in their profile photo deserves all the good things life offers. :)

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Oh boy, and I am one of those who love to share photo's. I was quite shocked today when I googled my name and in particularly photo's. I am all over the Net!!! Thank for this most-needed advice :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia

      It helps to be aware, Martie. Thanks for your comment. :)

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 2 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I almost never post photos of friends or relatives online. On the odd occasion I have done, I've asked permission first. I never post photos of any child online. Who knows how they may be used by people?

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 2 years ago from Australia

      I wish we all lived in a nicer world, Stazjia. Then we wouldn't need to be cautious. :)

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 2 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      So true, LongTimeMother, I've cute photos of the children in my life I'd love to share with friends on Facebook but, even with tight privacy settings, I won't.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 20 months ago from Washington, DC

      I've been going back and forth about doing a poem hub about family reunions where I use photos of family members from our June reunion. I had planned to email them and ask first anyway. But you've given me a lot to think about, LTM. I'm not so sure now. It took me a while to get comfy with posting my own photo. But I realized I needed to market my business. Thanks for this food for thought regarding family photos.

    • LongTimeMother profile image
      Author

      LongTimeMother 20 months ago from Australia

      Hi Jan. I think it is wise to check with your family members about using their photos. Perhaps you'll just have to chose the most appropriate photos. I'm sure your poem will be great.

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