Don’t Get Blackmailed: Protect The Images You Share Online Now

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Instant photo sharing is so ubiquitous today, it’s easy to forget that it was alien to us just a few decades ago.

Before the advent of the internet, sharing photos was a matter of shooting film, getting the film developed, and then physically showing the resulting prints to your friends. Videophones were everywhere in science fiction, but the idea of talking via video was as futuristic as owning a flying car.

Even in the 90s, images on the internet were slow to load over dial-up. Cell phones were few and far between, and most people didn’t have a camera or a connection to the internet. Today, more photos are taken every two minutes then were taken in the entire 19th century, and more than 500 million photos are uploaded to the Internet and shared every day.

With this new technology comes some privacy drawbacks, and we’re still a long way from the utopian digital future predicted on the sci-fi series of yesteryear. If your photos fall into the wrong hands, they could be used against you, or wind up being used for undesirable purposes.

One in ten hiring managers admits to rejecting applicants, due to ‘inappropriate’ use of social media. Some people may post images online that they later regret sharing, while others run the risk of having unflattering or embarrassing images of them posted without their permission. Even if you share photos willingly, you could still be giving away more information than you realize.

What does it take to keep your images safe online?

While swearing off photo sharing altogether may work, it’s not necessary to cut yourself off from modern technology in order to protect your privacy — you just need to know how to use it safely. Follow the guide below, and you’ll be able to keep sharing your snaps while safeguarding your privacy online.

How to keep personal photos private infographic
How to keep personal photos private

Transcript: Keeping Your Personal Photos Private

Smartphones and social media have made it easy to share snapshots of your life with friends and family. Sometimes, we even share our photos with total strangers. But don’t let the scare stories put you off. With just a few steps, you can still upload and tag your photos whilst remaining in control of who can see what.

The State of Sharing

Pictures are the most popular content shared on social media.

  • Pictures – 43% have shared within the past month
  • Opinions – 26% have shared within the past month
  • Status update – 26% have shared within the past month
  • Links to articles – 26% have shared within the past month

Based on figures from September 2013

So it’s no wonder the numbers around photo sharing online are staggering.

On Facebook:

  • 32 billion monthly active users
  • 350 million photos posted daily

On Twitter:

  • 271 million monthly active users
  • 180 million* photos posted daily

On Instagram:

  • 200 million monthly active users
  • 60 million photos posted daily

On Flickr:

  • 92 million monthly active users
  • 1 million photos posted daily

And here are some staggering statistics about the way we share our photos:

  • 54% of internet users post photos or videos they take themselves. (Creators)
  • 47% of internet users re-post photos or videos they see online. (Sharers)
  • 62% of all internet users in the US have done at least one of the above.
  • 11% of employees have had embarrassing photos taken at work events uploaded to social media.
  • 64% of HR officers have rejected applicants based on their use of social media.
  • 36% of people strongly dislike people who share too much information online.
  • 27% of Facebook users strongly dislike other people seeing their private posts.
  • 19% of teenagers have posted photos, videos, updates and comments that they’ve later regretted sharing.

Your Guide to Going Private

The key to protecting your photos online is to limit your exposure by rethinking who you allow to view your photos.


Facebook tends to encourage open sharing. However, you can limit those who can view your private snaps by following these steps:

  1. Upload a new photo by clicking Add Photos/Video at the top of your newsfeed.
  2. Click on Upload Photos/Video and select a photo to share. This will appear as a status update.
  3. To control who you want to view the image, on the bottom right, select the default Friends.
  4. Select More Options. This will give you a choice of audiences. If there are certain people you do or don’t want to see the photo, select
  5. Insert the names of your Facebook friends who you want to share the image with, or censor the image from.

To make an album private:

  1. From your profile page, select Photos.
  2. Select Albums to view your existing photos.
  3. Select the sharing option you would like to use. The same privacy setting will now be applied to the entire album.

As above, choose Custom to narrow your sharing down to a select few.


Your Twitter account is public by default. To make your photos private, you’ll also need to make your tweets private.

  1. Log in to your account. Click the Settings and help icon in the top right and select Settings.
  2. Under Security and Privacy, check Protect my Tweets.
  3. Scroll down and press Save changes.


Instagram can suggest your photo to others based on their followers and similar photos they’ve liked. If you’d rather have more control over who can see your snaps, you must go private.

  1. Go to your Profile by selecting the icon at the bottom right.
  2. Select Edit Your Profile.
  3. Turn on Posts are Private by sliding right.
  4. Save your changes by selecting
  5. Instagram will ask you for confirmation. Select Yes, I’m sure.


Flickr can be a great place to share your photography, but if you’re taking personal snaps, consider changing your privacy settings.

  1. Log in to your account and select an image from your photostream.
  2. The photo’s privacy details will be shown at the bottom right-hand corner.
  3. Under Viewing this photo, select Private if you want no one else to view the photo. Otherwise, select between Friends, Family or Friends & Family.
  4. If selecting Friends and/or Family, check who you have listed. Go to People on the top dashboard and click List.
  5. Change relationship settings as necessary.

When it comes to digital photos, it’s all too easy to download, copy and repost.

IOur final piece of advice is simple: If in doubt, just don’t upload it.


*Figures for Twitter were unavailable. This figure uses the rate of 500m tweets per day x 36% of tweets that contain an image.

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