Protect the Photos You Post

This weekend, I received an email from a concerned user of photo sharing site, Flickr.  The woman shared that while reviewing her site’s stats, she found a referral to an innocent picture of her nephew on her site from an online discussion group created by a pedophile for the purpose of sharing photographs with his online pedophile community.  Horrified, she blocked public access to her photo (an image which, I should mention, contained no nudity).

In the offline world, pedophiles typically operated in isolation.  Never before have pedophiles had the opportunity to communicate so freely and directly with each other as they do online. Their communication on the Internet through discussion groups, like the one this individual stumbled upon, provides virtual validation for their behavior.  Through the Internet, pedophiles can scroll through a large cache of images and videos posted by unsuspecting parents, families and children.  They can swap fanciful images or even child pornography (actual images of the sexual exploitation of children) with one another.

Whether you use the site Flickr, or any other online community site, we recommend using the privacy settings built into the sites you use to protect the images you post.  Preferably, pictures that are personal should only be seen by individuals you know, trust and have approved through the photo sharing feature on your site.

Additionally, if you do come across a discussion post, site or online user trading child pornography or exploiting children in this way, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and also, if appropriate, your local Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force office.  Additionally, if your website allows, report the individual to the site; more likely than not, the individual in question is violating the terms of use of the site.

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