Facebook and Privacy Issues with Images

I had a disturbing incident this past weekend with a picture I uploaded to my Facebook account, and it took me a full day to determine exactly what had happened.

Now, bear in mind, I have my privacy settings set up very stringently, so that only my Friends can see my posts, and I have to approve things in which I am tagged, and so on.

So it was very troubling to have a notification pop up telling me that someone I didn’t even know was able to Share one of my pictures.

Beg pardon?

Here’s how it went, (which took me a while to figure out): I uploaded a picture which I used as my profile pic. One of my Friends saw it as it came across her News Feed, and clicked on the Like button. Once she did that, one of her Friends was able to see my picture on her Timeline. Which then allowed her Friend, who was not Friends with me, to Share my picture, despite me having all my privacy settings set to the most stringent of standards.

I cry Bullshit on that, big time Facebook.

What if that were a photo of one of my children? And what if one of my relatives Liked it, and one of their Friends Shared it, and off it went around Facebook world. I give no one I don’t know permission to Share my photos, I most assuredly do not.

I am, among other things, a professional photographer, and someone whose business relies on the images I use. I have hundreds of photos and pictures uploaded to my Facebook account. And if Facebook thinks that they can allow just anyone to Share my images willy-nilly, well, then I will be removing all my images from their website soonest.

I seem to recall a recent kerfuffle with Instagram, where imprecise language in their Terms Of Service had everyone upset, as it seemed as if Instagram was saying we no longer owned our images. And now, here’s this sneaky thing that Facebook is doing, allowing any Tom, Dick, or Harry to Share our images without so much as a by your leave.

I don’t know if this is a bug, or an undisclosed “feature”, but either way, it would seem to me to be a very simple thing for the programmers at Facebook to implement a simple checkbox that one had to select when one was uploading a photo that said “Do you wish to allow other users to be able to Share your photo, yes or no?” which would let us decide if we wanted to let folks Share funny meme pics (which no doubt we would), or pictures of our babbies (which no doubt we wouldn’t) and other things.

I know I want a choice. And until such time as Facebook gives me one, I’ll be seriously considering taking all my hundreds of pictures and photos off their site.

I have several friends who are serious photographers, some of whom make their living with their photography, who may not be aware of this bug/feature, and I’ll be alerting them to this issue. As well, I’ll be letting others know, in the hopes that I can get this issue some traction/publicity, and perhaps some changes will be made to make this go away. But for now folks, you need to know that whatever images you upload to Facebook can be Shared by anyone who is a Friend of any of your Friends, just with a simple click of the Like button.

It really shouldn’t have to be so complicated. And it should be fixed, asap.

Edited to add – I posted about this on Facebook, and someone replied to me with this: “I spoke to someone who works at Facebook, and this is how he explained the picture problem: There’s a difference between profile pictures and Photo Album pictures. All Profile pictures have a privacy setting of “public”, to help people find each other on FB. Pictures in Photo Albums can have the privacy settings you want. But —you can go to the photo of yours that someone has re-shared and ask them to take it down — there’s a button/selector on the photo that will do this.”

My response to that is, well, I don’t give a damn if Facebook wants people to be able to find me using my Profile pictures, I don’t want them to have a privacy setting of “public.” They are still my photos, and in most cases I still retain copyright to them. I don’t want to have to ask someone to take my photos down, and in that instance, pay a dollar in order to send the message to their regular mailbox to do so (rather than have it sent to the wasteland that is the “Other” mailbox, which most people don’t even know exists.)

Bottom line Facebook, you do not get to choose which photos of mine are to be made public, I do. They are my photos. And I will be systematically removing all my photos from my Profile picture folder that are anything other than silly or memes or paintings I like by famous artists.

This also begs the question of whether or not facial recognition software is being put into play here. Isn’t that a paranoid thing to think about, eh? But just because we’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us…