A Cautionary Tale

Like many people, I use Flickr to store my photographs. I’m no artist; my photos are decent but not gallery-quality. I mean, sure, every so often I get a really good picture – but most of them are just snapshots, intended to commemorate moments in my life rather than to be framed and displayed. I don’t lock down security settings for most of my pictures because I like to be able to share them, because I don’t have anything secret or private in there, and – I’ll admit it – because I like it when random strangers come across one of my pictures and asks to add it to a group or something. It feels kind of community-ish or something.

Well, this weekend I received an email stating that someone (whose username I didn’t know) had added one of my photos to a Flickr gallery.

“What picture is that?” I wondered. “What did I take that was good enough that someone wanted to curate it online?”

So I went to see, and this is the picture that had been galleried:


Huh? A snapshot of my husband and I, mildly sunburned, at a wedd…

Oh. Oh.

I went to the gallery itself and discovered that this fine individual had combed through Flickr looking for uninspired snapshots of fully clothed, big-busted ladies with male escorts, and had named his gallery a play on the word “couples.” (Thus proving, I’m sure, some facet of Rule 34.)

(Y’know, when this picture was taken, I thought I looked pretty good – because at the time, I was overweight, and this picture focused on more attractive assets than my waistline. Now, though, having to look at it, all I can see are those basketballs stuffed down that poor overstrained dress. I’m grotesque!)

And worst yet – some creeper out there collected my assets and added it to his creepy fetish gallery.

Feeling dirty, I went back to the photo page, intending to privatize it – and then I saw something that my email hadn’t informed me: three or four other creepers had favorited this photo. When I clicked through to view all of their favorites, I found similar collections: rows and rows of women with large breasts, all decently clothed, none apparently any relation to the collector.

Needless to say, I’m increasing my diligence about photo privacy and about who favorites what. It’s an odd sort of thing; I mean, on one hand, a gal could be flattered that random internet strangers found her attractive, even at her plumpest. But I really don’t think I want even the nicest internet stranger to be collecting photos of me and sharing them with other creepers online. It’s really kind of horrifying. Thank goodness I wasn’t in a bathing suit… crumbs. Are there pics of me in bathing suits on Flickr? Maybe it’s time to privatize everything!

I am embarrassed to post this, because I try to teach internet safety and ought to know better, but my vanity got in the way and this was the result. So let this be a cautionary tale to all of you: if you post pictures online, you lose control of them, and there are people out there who are very strange and quite “inappropriate,” as you might say. And I know that posting that picture here again, in a post with highly google-able keywords, is probably asking for trouble again. But if it keeps this sort of thing from happening to you, then it is worth it. After all, everyone’s already seen this picture. Blech.


2 thoughts on “A Cautionary Tale

  1. I locked down my flickr account recently too. After my niece was born in January, I posted her birth day pictures onto flickr for my sister-in-law to pick some for prints. Several people “added me as a contact” and favorited photos of her and Ivalee and my nephews after that. The pictures weren’t really “suspect”, but I started to think that I didn’t really want them to be “out there” for anyone else to take advantage of. It’s a whole new level of creepy when the kiddos are involved. You’re suspicious of everything 🙂

  2. Sad. 😦

    I worry about this with my kids, especially…and worry about it most with other people posting pictures of them on line. The posts I worry most about are the grandparent posts because I worry they won’t have privacy settings in place.

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