How private are your pics?

By  December 04, 2012

Kids taking photosGone are the days of developing photos and painstakingly pasting them into albums or having copies made for family and friends.  No, now all we have to do is pop a picture of our treasures on Facebook or other social media for all to see and sit back and wait for the likes and comments…  However it’s not all good news, with convenience comes vulnerability, just how safe are our precious pictures, who is looking at them and by posting them on social media, are we inadvertently putting our children at risk?

With more than half of UK parents using social networks like Facebook to share pictures of their children with friends and relatives, shockingly only 46%  have enabled security settings to keep their photos private, according to new research by baby photo sharing app 23snaps.

More than three quarters (76%) of parents polled said they were aware that if a friend simply hits ‘share’ on a photo they have posted, it can be seen by all their friend’s contacts. But are they as relaxed about their pictures of their children being shared? Almost a third (32%) of parents do not post pictures of their children on Facebook for this reason, with 58% of parents stressing that they ‘don’t like the idea of strangers being able to view the pictures’.

When pressed on the security measures parents take online it seems they’re a pretty savvy bunch for the most part. More than half (54%) make sure their friends and family avoid posting photos of their children without their permission, 65% avoid details like street signs and the names of schools on uniforms when uploading images, and 77% claim to have very strong online passwords – ‘containing symbols, numbers, capitals and lots of characters’. Understandable given that ‘stranger danger’ was also voted the number one fear by UK parents (43%), beating other concerns such as bullying, accidents and injuries, health and ‘being able to provide for your child’ (31%).

So just how do you make sure that you are posting your pictures safely?  We asked 23snaps for their advice on secure social networking from pictures to passwords:

The 23snaps guide to secure social networking

photo appFirst things first:

  • Choose a platform that has privacy settings you understand and can set up from day one.

Although Facebook have improved and added to their online privacy options, even Facebook warns users that content which has been “indexed” (that is, catalogued by a search engine like Google) can still be found online even after you limit your privacy settings. There is no way to go back and remove that content from your virtual footprint if it gets recorded by sites like Google or Yahoo so make sure you are happy with and understand the privacy settings from day one.

  • Make sure privacy settings on your phones and tablets match up with your computer settings

Some apps may access personal information or track your activity. Usually they will have privacy setting options so be sure to look at these before using the app. If there are any privacy settings you’re not happy with, remove the app and don’t use it.

  • Be aware of how the GPS tracker on your phone can tag images to your location

Some apps that allow you to upload photos include the GPS coordinates of your location with the photo. This may be a great feature that helps you remember where you were when you took particular photos but in a public network like Facebook or Instagram, this also might expose your home location. It’s important to be aware of this setting and decide whether or not you want to use it.

And once you’re up and running:

  • Don’t say you’re off on holiday

It’s simple; don’t advertise to potential thieves that you’re out of the country. Instead wait until you’re back – plus a tan – and able to brag with lots of fab beach pics!

  • …in fact don’t give away too much at all!

Laptop on floorIt’s also not a great idea to reveal too much personal information such as your address, date of birth, email address or even your family tree as sadly all of this information can be used for identify theft. Mother’s maiden name anyone?

  • Protect your children

Ensuring your photos are set to private and that school uniforms are not visible. If you see any friends or family members hitting ‘share’ on photographs of your children, thereby making them free for all to see, politely ask them to delete.

  • Use different passwords

Too many of us are guilty of password apathy or perhaps just prefer the convenience of using the same old one for all our online log-ins, but if you use the same password for every site, then an accidental leak or hack on one site provides hackers with an ‘access all areas’ pass, including online banking and email accounts.

  • Be wary of scams

Beware of links to malicious sites or ones that install infectious malware onto a computer. Typical ways these sites lure you in is through phishing scams, i.e. posting questions like “OMG! Did you see this picture of you?”, links to fake news stories or even free IQ tests.