General Question

casheroo's avatar

What is the danger in posting pictures online?

Asked by casheroo (18017 points ) May 5th, 2009

I know some people are very vigilant on not posting any pictures of themselves online. I’ve always wondered…what is the big deal? What harm can come of it?

On a parenting site, some crazies will steal your photos, and pretend that they are their children. This bothers me only to an extent (note: this has not happened to me, but to many others) The victims usually become hypervigilant about not posting any personal information.
I would be upset, but I would not think it was a personal attack into my private life.
I personally post any picture of myself, or my son that I feel like. Is this such a bad thing?

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23 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

People may see them – people who you would rather not see them. They may then use those pictures (of your likeness) in ways you can’t imagine and may not approve of.

Jeruba's avatar

Anyone can peer into your life. More than you would believe. It is not a bad thing, but you should be aware of the potential for abuse. You can always use passwords and give them only to your friends and family.

Once posted, pictures never die. They can be captured and kept, circulated, reposted forever. College students who post drunken pictures of themselves and their friends on Facebook should consider this when they think ahead to their future professions and job applications.

May2689's avatar

Well… I have one case that might interest you. A while ago, a boy was kidnapped and murdered. It was very sad, and the family was completely devastated obviously. As the investigation continued, the police found out that the captors had spotted this kid on facebook! The captors made a fake facebook account, and had been spying on this kid for months. They knew everything about him because of the things he posted. Vacation albums, parties, status updates, locations, etc. Maybe the kid was careless by “accepting a friend request” of someone he obviously didnt know, but it was very tragic and it made me realize how dangerous it is to post personal information or photos.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

photos are only your memory of someone’s appearance, materialized. i don’t really see the big deal in most cases (most cases, meaning i do see a problem with 14 year old girls posting pornstar-esque pictures on their myspaces; that can obviously create some problems).

but it’s not like we can filter who sees us face to face. those people are potentially a whole lot more dangerous than folks on the internet, as they have the advantage of already being capable to physically reach us. yes, dangerous situations have arisen from posting pictures online, but to refuse to put any photos up for that reason? might as well stay in doors with the curtains down, because you’re facing the same danger by showing yourself in public. you just can’t see the audience online.

spresto's avatar

If it is posted online it stops being a private life.

PublicBlog's avatar

To sum it up:
online predators (pedophiles) or identity theif

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Definitely the online creepers who will clip your pics to impersonate you and busy themselves with digging up IRL info on you. I’ve seen this happen and now I’m a lot more skittish online than I used to be. Kind of a killjoy but the weirdos really are out there.

On site like this one where you may feel a camaraderie with more of the members than less users, it can feel safe to post your pics and share more of your IRL identity but you’re still sharing with all the site.

tekn0lust's avatar

The only experience I have with this is that a picture of my daughter when she was a baby was used by a political activist site during the 2004 US Presidential election.

For a while this photo was the number two hit on google images for “baby angel”. Somehow this political activist website used a google trick to redirect all clicks on this image to their site. I was less than impressed and hence most every picture of my family I post now is visible only to those invited to see it.

oratio's avatar

I think dangerous and sick people are that off the internet too. Sure, I agree that contact and communication is much easier now than fifteen years ago, and literally everyone is on the net these days. But I am not sure if we are more in danger now than before. I think it’s just different.

Something of interest if it’s correct, is that wikipedia’s article on violent crimes in the US shows a continuous drop of violent crime since 1993, more or less with the introduction of internet.

But to connect to the actual Q. I post any picture I feel like, of me and my son. I don’t know what will happen with them, but I don’t really care. If they make someone else happy to see, and use, that’s fine. There are “what if’s” with everything in life.

Spargett's avatar

Conceeded paranoia will always fuel this rediculous concern.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I have been reluctant to post photos online, though there are a few. It’s only that there are certain relatives I’d rather not reacquaint myself with who may now have internet access, and I don’t want them to be able to find me.

StellarAirman's avatar

It’s paranoia in my opinion. I post any picture online with no worries. It’s just like the “Craigslist Killer” in the news recently. The media likes to vilify the internet and technology any chance they get. If he had used newspaper classified ads to find the girls he killed they wouldn’t have said “Newspaper classified killer”. But people see those headlines without really understanding the technology so they think that everyone on the internet is out to kill them or rape them or scam them in some way.

Sure it could happen, but people were dying long before the internet, pedophiles existed long before the internet, etc. People can also target you or your kids while at Chuck E Cheese and the grocery store.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I once had a crazy stalker girl on myspace who posted my pictures on her site and made comments about them below. Wierd thing is that we had no mutual friends, so I don’t know how she thought this was hurting me at all.

Just_Justine's avatar

I used to be a fan of face book, back in my ignorant days, which was not that long ago. I remember a women who was going mad because all her photo’s were saved and appearing on all sorts of sites, from dating sites, to proposition sites like “phone me I want sex”. She was very attractive so that might have caused the stealing of photo’s. Then someone almost stole her identity on face book by taking her name, and changing one letter in the surname and opening a profile.

I used to post photo’s of myself until, someone warned me that the photo was on a dating site. This person had used my photo along with a long aray of sexual genres they were interested in. To my mind it was some pervert guy in fact that was luring in hapless ladies. It is scary for sure.
I went on a dating site once, submitted my photo, and my ex husband said he was browsing and the site was using my photo to advertise. It must have said that in the small print. My policy now is NO PHOTO. I hate face book, I think it is a voyeurs dream in that they peruse your life for what? Would be stalkers get to know your friends, add them, ex girlfriends or wives access your profile if you are not very highly secured. I just think to myself do I want to be an open advert? A lot of my female friends are very attractive. They post their work information, where they live, school history, and photo’s of their kids and family. I just wouldn’t. Not after what I have heard and seen.

Kraken's avatar

People could be whackers and totally destroy you especially if you give them lots of personal info to feed off. Personal photos should have a limited viewership capacity and thus eliminating the likelihood and interest of any ill doers from viewing your photos. Use discretion and know what is OK for public viewership and what you want to keep discreet and your chance of harm towards you shall be minimalized.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Gadzooks, posting a pic ANYWHERE in cyberspace can get it stolen by the right person with the knowhow to do it. Just as The Club or other measures will stop the opportunist it won’t stop the pro. I would think more than preditors seeing who you are and stalking you the greater danger would come from inauthorized use, as has been shown, someone using the pic as part of a campaign, ad, illustration for a book etc. I believe this would more than likely be used overseas where the person using it will imagine the owner would have the least chance of detecting the theft of the image.

AshlynM's avatar

The average computer user will probably not do any harm to your pictures you post online. But for advanced hackers, they could probably find any little bit of information about you that they wanted just through your pictures.

Hackers only need one piece of you, even if it’s just your bank account number or social security number, to steal your identitiy and make your life miserable. So it’s best to be careful about what you post online.

Anything you post online is fair game, even if it’s set to private.

Poser's avatar

I know this is an old question, but I just came accross it and wanted to chime in. Lately, the subject of geotags has been sprouting up all around me (it’s something that the military is very concerned about). Basically, any phone or photography device with a gps chip will automatically record exactly where it was taken, by default. These tags are saved embedded in the .jpg (or whatever other format the device uses).

I first heard about this in a safety brief, where the briefer was able to go to a random social networking profile, download all the user’s photos, and find the location of each one. He tracked a large number of them to a public park. He went and hung out at the park, and sure enough, found the woman at the park.

I was skeptical, but pulled out my iPhone, and, there it was, little dots in every place I’d taken a photo. I don’t generally post my iPhone photos anywhere, but it was unnerving to know that if I had, anyone could see exactly where I’ve been, including the exact location of my house.

Just something to keep in mind.

casheroo's avatar

@Poser You just spoke a foreign language to me. I don’t get how that works??

aprilsimnel's avatar

@casheroo, if you have a smartphone that has a GPS chip in it, say for Google Maps or the like, the phone has to send a signal to the tower or satellite to get a handle on where you are. So when you take a photo using the phone, there’s a tag embedded in the picture with the location of where you took it, hence “geotag”.

If you upload such pictures onto Facebook, someone who knows how to do it can download all those photos and get the geotags from them to find your locations, including your home address if you’ve uploaded your phone’s pictures from there.

Yeah, I imagine the military’s very concerned. A lot of soldiers with smart phones can inadvertently give away troop movements.

casheroo's avatar

@aprilsimnel We don’t have smartphones, so I guess it’s not an issue with our regular digital cameras?

aprilsimnel's avatar

@casheroo – I think on the newer ones, it’s a possibility.

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