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The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Do’s and Don’ts of Posting Photos Online

Meredith Cummings

Meredith Cummings

Social media outlets like Facebook and Snapchat have helped connect families and friends who are separated by long distances. These outlets provide a means to share photos instantaneously, but people should be cautious when doing so.

The University of Alabama’s Meredith Cummings shares some tips on how to safely post photos online.

  • Your life is an open book. Know that in this day and information age nothing is ever really private, so think before you post anything. Your social media/digital footprint is for life. There is no going back, even on social media like Snapchat, which show photos for only a predetermined amount of seconds. There is no need to be paranoid, but think before you post. Listen to that small yet nagging voice in your head when it talks.
  • Watch for the small things. In the background of photos, people can often gleam details of your life you might not want public. For example, a photo of your child in front of his or her school might let strangers know what school your child goes to. And a monogrammed backpack is an easy way for someone to see your child’s name or initials. A family photo could show details of your home, which bring us to the next tip …
  • We live here. Please steal our things. If the location or GPS services are enabled on your device (your phone, for example) then anyone can easily find out exactly where that photo was taken. So turn those settings off when taking and posting photos.
  • What’s funny today may not be funny tomorrow. If you are tempted to post a photo of yourself – or something or someone else – that is humorous, ask yourself, “Is this offensive to anyone?” or try to envision if it will still be funny in the future. If you are going out with friends and planning on having drinks, put the phone away until later. Or, if you take pictures, post them the next day when you are sure you want the world to view you in the light of the photos.
  • Filter, filter, filter. Make sure all of your settings and friends on each social media you use are people you actually know, or at least don’t mind sharing with. Let friends know that you want to be asked before they post pictures of you or your family. There is no way to avoid someone else copying and using your photos inappropriately, so, if you are concerned, just don’t post them.

Cummings is the director of scholastic media in UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences. uamatters_logo-thumb

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UA Matters is a weekly posting that offers information and tips on consumer issues facing Alabamians. The information is available to reprint in your publication free of charge. Also, access to subject matter experts is available upon request. For more information, contact Kim Eaton at 205/348-8325 or>.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.