I receive hundreds of tech questions every week, and there are some questions that get asked on a regular basis.
One such recurring question is this:
“Is there any way to prevent people from stealing the photos I have posted on my Facebook account?“
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is an emphatic “NO”.
You can always set the privacy level for your photos to “Friends” to prevent strangers from seeing them in their newsfeeds. And it will also prevent your friends from sharing them on their own Timelines.
However, that won’t prevent your friends from copying your photos to their own computers or mobile devices. And as you probably know, once a photo is on someone else’s device they have full control over what happens to it.
Here are just a few of the things someone with mal intentions can do with one of your stolen photos:
- They can post it on their own Facebook Timeline or even on a different social media website.
- They can upload it to other types of websites, some of which could be far from reputable.
- They can send it to a third-party via email or text message.
- They can print it and send it to someone via postal mail.
- They can use an image editing app to alter your photo in ways that could potentially put you or one of your family members in a bad light. For example, just think of the things a pedophile could do with an innocent photo of your toddler splashing around naked in the bathtub.
- They can simply print it and hang it on their wall.
It all boils down to this: If a photo can be viewed on a screen, it can be downloaded to the viewer’s device or photographed with a camera. And you might never even find out about it.
And once a photo has been stolen it can be used by the thief in many different ways.
This is why it’s extremely important to be judicious about the types of photos you post on Facebook.
Let me repeat this for emphasis: ANY photo that can be viewed on a screen can be copied and stolen, regardless of the privacy level that’s assigned to it.
That’s why you should always assume that any photos you post will be available to the public, because in reality they are.
And like it or not, there’s simply no privacy setting that will prevent it.
Of course you can always set the privacy level to “Only Me” to ensure that no one besides you will ever see it, but what would be the point in that?
Bottom line: Facebook (and in fact the Internet at large) is like the “wild, wild west”.
You’re sure to encounter all kinds of people on here, and it’s a good bet that some of them won’t have your best interests in mind.
And here’s something else to remember: There’s a good chance that not everyone on your friends list is truly your friend. It’s therefore wise to always post on Facebook accordingly.
And now, one final point: Please don’t think I’m trying to discourage you from using Facebook and your other social media accounts to share the high points of your life with your family and friends, because I’m not.
After all, social media offers many ways to instantly connect with others and instantly share things that could only be shared in person or through postal mail in times past.
I’m merely suggesting that you take a few moments to think of any possible repercussions before you upload a photo to a social media website and click the “Post” button.
Bonus tip: This post explains why there’s really no such thing as privacy on Facebook.