The abundance of social media services and online photo-sharing sites makes it easier than ever to upload photos to the Internet. Most smartphones and mobile devices also allow you to share photos taken with your device. While sharing images online has its advantages, it’s not always the smartest or safest thing. After an image is uploaded, it can be almost impossible to delete again, especially if the image goes viral or is used by other online users. Always read the terms of service related to copyright and ownership before uploading any images to social networks, especially if you are worried about reusing your work.
Change and use images without permission
While the risk of abuse is small, sharing photos online can cause them to be altered without your permission and retweeted as memes.
Because these types of photos are shared and retweeted constantly, it is almost impossible to delete them from the Internet. A famous example is “The Successful Child”, which is the image taken by a photographer of her own son. After posting the image to Flickr, people modified the image by adding their own phrases and reposting it online. A father who posted a personal photo of himself and his son also saw this photo appear on Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook and other pages after it was modified and turned into a meme.
Use personal images of trade organizations
Any time you share a photo online there is a risk that it could be used by commercial organizations. For example, a Christmas photo of an American family was displayed on a Czech billboard without their consent.
The photo was uploaded by a family member to his personal blog and social media sites, but was eventually put on a billboard after the owner of a shop in Prague found it online and used it to advertise his business. In another example, the crashed car uploaded by a Flickr user was used as part of Virgin Australia’s advertising campaign. Since the user did not check under what license she uploaded the photo, in this case it was a license that was allowed to be used for commercial purposes and Virgin Australia could legally use the image without compensation.
Appears in online search results without permission
Even if your photos are shared on a small or little-known personal blog, they can still show up a lot online thanks to search engines.
This visibility means you have the ability to display these photos to a much larger audience that you might have thought. In addition to the obvious risks of identity theft, sharing a photo of a person who may be on the run because of an abusive relationship is also very risky – you can make it easier for someone to find that person.
Sharing photos that harm yourself or others engaged in criminal activities, drug use, drinking alcohol, or nudity can harm your academic status or career prospects. Depending on the nature of the photos, they can also lead to you being criminally charged.
Delete your picture
If you’ve tried your best, your photos are still being posted online, you can take some steps to minimize the damage. Google recommends that if your photo appears in the search results, you should contact the administrator of the photo hosting site and ask for it to be taken down. DMCA.com recommend starting takedowns immediately if you spot sites sharing your images without your consent, to avoid the spread of images. For social networking sites, your options depend on the terms of the service. For example, Facebook recommends asking the person who shared the photo to take it down. If you’re not the one who created or uploaded the photos, it can be very difficult for you to delete them.