Posting photos online puts privacy at risk

Advertisers stealing photos and use them in campaigns, on billboards

By Allison McGinley - News Director

ORLANDO, Fla. - Odds are there's a photo of you floating around somewhere on social media. We post 250 million photos to Facebook every day.

Jay Breen says he's one of those who posts those snap shots of his life, "If I'm doing something interesting or fun, like traveling, traveling to other countries or you know, to an island."

But when a friend mentioned seeing those photos on a risqué dating web site, jay didn't understand how it happened.

"Up come pictures of myself, three pictures that I posted on Facebook when I first signed up a while ago. This particular web site is something I didn't want to be associated with," said Breen.

Breen is a victim of a growing trend called "digital shoplifting."

Experts warn that even the savviest internet users are seeing their pictures and other personal media stolen.

Those photos could pop up anywhere around the world in political attack ads, online scams, and even on foreign billboards.

So what can you do if someone steals your image? First step is to contact the website and threaten legal action.

That's what Breen did.

"This is becoming more serious, please remove it, in capital letters, before I get, you know, someone involved, an attorney involved," is what Breen says he told the company.

You could send a cease and desist letter, citing violations of us copyright act.
A simpler option would be to take preventative steps, like putting a visible watermark over your photos and video.

Or you can turn to a growing number of companies that offer software to give your pictures and video a unique fingerprint that can't be seen by the naked eye, but allows you to track them.

Breen's threats to hire an attorney worked, but he has a warning for you the next time you post a picture, "Think before you do it because you never know where the pictures will end up."

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