FBI Portland
Portland Media Office
(503) 460-8060
November 24, 2020

Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense When Using Photo Sharing Sites

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense when sharing photos online… a topic of particular interest as many of us host virtual Thanksgiving dinners in a few days.

Last week we talked about EXIF data that can be embedded in your photos. EXIF data can tell you (and others) exactly where you took the photo, with what kind of camera, what kinds of settings you used, and more. This week, we will talk about some other privacy concerns you should consider when posting your pics.

There are many photo sharing sites out there, including some big ones you have likely heard of such as Google Photos, Apple’s “Photos” app, and Flickr. Beyond those options, many of us also use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to post and share pictures. No matter which app or platform you are using, they all have an array of different security settings and sharing options.

Some features on these sites are purposeful and even helpful. Face recognition, for instance, helps the system sort your photos, making them easier to find. However, depending on which product you are using, some features might provide more access than you are comfortable giving. It’s up to you to decide what limits you want to set. Here are some options:

  • Limit visibility of the photos to only your account.
  • Set your account to private or “friends only.” Remember that even if you restrict your data from public view, the service may still have access to your data and may share it with third parties.
  • Avoid posting or tagging images that clearly show your face. Consider only posting pictures from a distance, at an angle, or with you wearing sunglasses or other coverings.
  • Finally, remember that no matter how good you are at setting privacy restrictions on your own account, you need to make sure family members and friends who post pictures of you are taking similar precautions.

As you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this week, remember to stay safe, both in person and online.

If you have been victimized by a cyber fraud, be sure to file a report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.