The dangers of putting your photo or family photos on the internet
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
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?
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?
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
- What do you think about writers who don't put their photo as avatar in Hubpages?
This topic was discussed on HP many months ago. I thought I'd added a comment back then about how I can think of many reasons not to use your own face but I don't see it there. Perhaps it was answering a similar question in another thread.
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.
- You have your photo featured on a professional / work related website. It gives no mention of your home address or location.
- Some nutter gets upset by your professional conduct and decides to make you suffer.
- 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.
Another hubber's take on photos as avatars
- Photos, Head Shots, Avatars, Comments and Answers on HubPages
Is there something wrong with people that will not post their own real photo likenesses on Internet sites? Perhaps not, and perhaps they want to keep it that way. See some interesting cases here...
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.
Learn more about how google uses Reverse Photo Search
© 2013 LongTimeMother