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posted by Bruce Bentley alias Bruces Circle of Confusion on Thursday 25th of February 2010 05:35:18 AM

The last days and weeks it already happened again, that photos of contacts and friends were taken from their accounts and reposted on a variety of other websites and in ANY cases the same sort of discussion starts again and again: * How can that happen? * Why does it happen? * What have I done wrong? * Should I delete my whole stream? * May I stop showing my photos in general? * Are my children in danger now? * What can I do, that it won't happen again? * Would watermarking help? * What can I technically do? * How do I find out if a contact is creepy or legit? That is or was, what brought me to the attention to write this "FAQ" to help especially new users on flickr, to support people who had or have to deal with that problem, to get those creeps away from our photo streams, etc. * How can that happen? People taking your photos, because they are public visible. They don't care about any copyright or that "© All Rights Reserved." message under every photo. They only see the picture, their "trophy". Usually they just download it, when it's public. When Download is blocked for Non-Contacts, they use a "workaround" on flickr to get your photo in "Large" size (1024 x 1024) or simply take the "Medium" sized (500 x 500) picture. Size doesn't matter for them as long as the content on the photo fits for them. If the photos are "friendy only" or "family only", they try to get to your contact list and as soon as they get access, they download your whole stream, well, at least the photos which are interesting for them. * Why does that happen? It happens every day, in our cases mostly photos showing children or youth are affected, but it can easily happen to all other photos too. Companies do it to save money, creeps do it to get some "trading material" for their personal collection, third parties do it just because they are not able to take good photos themselves and want to improve their websites. Some others do it and try to discredit you or even more worse: to blackmail you. There's a huge variety about it, mostly it is nothing personal. * What have I done wrong? Mostly: Nothing! You were just showing your own photos and personal work, felt happy to show them, were happy that you get nice comments to your photos. In 90% of all cases it works fine and it will never be a problem. But there are people lurking around with only one goal: To get your photos and the more they get, the better it is for them. The only thing you may have done wrong, was, that you trusted a person which is not trustworthy, often enough already persons, who hide their fake photostreams so good, that you need a very long time until you find out, that they are fakes. But there are signs, who could help you to find them easier. * Should I delete my whole stream? Simple question back to you? Why? The photos are already taken, even when you delete your stream they are still taken. That "photo thief" won't steal them again, he already has them! The only thing you can do, is not to upload new photos before you are sure, you eliminated that problem. Deleting your stream does not change anything and also not delete the reposted images from the source, where they got reposted! * May I stop showing my photos in general? This is completely up to you. A lot of people already decided, that it was enough and stop showing photos in general in the future. This is always frustrating and it just destroys something you have done as a hobby or because it was fun for you. * Are my children in danger now? Nope! You can be pretty sure about it, that a pervert won't travel around the whole world and search exactly that child he was able to see on photos, even when that child was nude (like photographed in the bathtub, at the beach, whatever). As long as you follow the simple rules of not adding any real names or addresses to the photos, it is no problem. A pervert in your own neighborhood you had never seen before would maybe be more problematic than the right-hand-user somewhere 5.000 miles away. Just ignore that fact, that won't harm your child in any way. If you are sceptic about it, if your address was taken too, if you get phone calls for example... go immediately to the next police office. But in most cases: No risk, no danger! Don't panic! * What can I do, that it won't happen again? First you have to know what sort of photos those people feel attracted to. Mostly they are photos showing "bare skin", but it is not just that. Also bare feet can get their attraction, a standard portrait can do that too as well as a nice artwork you had done with Photoshop. To tell it simple: It can affect EVERY photo of your child! The easiest step would be not to post anything showing your kids or their friends on the internet. But well, in our todays world it is part of it and you are proud to show your photos, because you love your child, because you want to show, how your child grows up, because you or your child are proud to be seen, because you want to show the photos to your family, friends, relatives or other people interested in your photography. There are hundreds of reasons why you want to do that. Will you give that up just because of a few creeps? That's not worth it! So keep on. If they don't take your photos, they take photos of million other people. But you can do something to prevent it: Do not post your photos in full size "public". Show them only to "friend" or "family" contacts and be careful about adding people to your contacts. Check them out first! How you do that and how you can get "signs" will be told later. Only allow "download" to contacts or higher level. This can be done via your preferences. Public photos should be maximum in size of 1280 x 1280 pixel. That provides, that the flickr software won't create a "Large" file images, so even with the "workaround" non contacts can only download the "Medium" sized image (500 x 500), which makes your stream already very less attractive to those creeps. "Friend" or "Family" photos you can easily show full size, non contacts are unable to see them and hey... guess you should be able to trust your "friend" and "family" contacts, huh? So locking the photos from them too is just not gentle. That is sort of a synonym for "I don't trust you" - but if you don't trust them, why do you add them as "friend" or "family" contact? Those suggestions should already help you a lot and help you, that your photos are better protected. Surely they still can steal your public images, but that fact can be ignored, because they only can steal "stamp sized" photos and mostly they give up, because also creeps are already ambitious and demanding. * Would watermarking help? Easy answer: No! Those persons don't care about watermarks, they want the photo and what they can see there! Some are creative and remove the watermark, others crop the watermark away, the next ones stamp a bigger watermark over the photos. Finally a watermark won't change anything, otherwise it can be easily used "against" you: It simply is an advertisement for those creepy people. All their viewers know now from which site the photos came from, they can backtrack them. In worst case you only get more of those flies to your stream and more people taking your work and showing them in their own "trophy galleries" somewhere else. You won't win anything by watermarking your photos, you only can lose. Sure, a "honorable photographer" would easier be able to inform you, when he finds your work republished somewhere else, but hey... how many photographers "hunt" "web hunters" to get photos from others off? Got it? * What can I technically do? Like already been said, don't show all of your photos public, add them "friends" or "family" and add trustworthy persons to your contacts. Don't add public photos bigger than 1280 x 1280 size, so flickr software won't create a "Large" image which can be stolen by using a "workaround". They still can take the "Medium" sized image (500 x 500) but usually they are too small for those guys already, they also demand "better" photos. Show your photos in full size only to Contacts+ not to "Everyone", "friend" and "family" photos can be full size, because you have an overview of your contact list and won't add anyone. The 100% secure method is not to upload ANY photos, but hey, that's not the sense of a photo community, isn't it? * How do I find out if a contact is creepy or legit? BANG! Great question, this is not that easy as it may sound. What will be told here may also give "support" to those creepy persons you may think. It's a fact... it really is. But hey, those creeps are already lurking around and getting more and more "professional" in what they are doing, some are already spending a lot of time just to get the trust of people and access to their photos! Some are doing it already over years, when they are found, they delete their stream and create a new one, because the photos are more "gold" for them than spending those few dollars. But there are a lot of indications, how you can find out if somebody is legit. In most cases you cannot tell it just because one fact fits to a person, sometimes even more or all indications fit to someone and he may still be legit... those are not a general rules, but it can and should help you! * Most of the creeps are simple "greyman": Free account, no images, no profile, no memberships in groups, but hundreds of favorites, usually showing the same content. When they get deleted, they put up a new one and play their simple game again. In 99,9% of all cases it doesn't work. NEVER add those "greyman" accounts, except you really know and you are really sure that this account belongs to "Aunt Mary", which only wants to see your photos * They add those favorite photos to their account to stay in "contact" and find the accounts they like easier. Suggestion, when people like that favoriting your photos: Block them, wait 10 minutes, Unblock them. Why? Because those greyman are also often in contact with each others. They exchange their "webfinds" via their favorite lists, that means, when your photos are at those favorite lists, your account will be more easier found by those people * Some more creative guys add a small profile, have mixed favorites, have a free account, are member of groups and have a lot of contacts. Check the groups they belong to! Usually most of them are pornographic groups or they are only member in dozens of groups about children. Watch their contact list! Are there "greyman"? Are there other accounts with dubious images? Do they have dozens or hundreds of favorited photos of childern there? The account itself or their friends accounts? When are they registered? Are they long time flickr members or just registered a few weeks ago? What are their usernames? "boygod35", "Ilovekids85" for example are not really appropriate usernames... ignore those, block them. Yes, just because of the inappropriate username. Accounts like that can also be easily detected, often enough within a few seconds * Free accounts, containing photos, maybe no favorites and belonging to dozens of groups, mixed groups, nothing special, a few kids groups, a few nature groups, animal groups, "fav"-groups, whatever... A profile maybe, some nice contacts... They are a little bit more tricky than the other ones, but just watch their photos. Are they taken with a huge amount of cameras, that can be seen via the EXIFs, but usually those people turn the EXIF information off in general. What do the photos show? Are they just one topic or is there a mix? Do they have curious subject lines like "456756353_dsfsdf_ws.jpg"? That's a indicator that they may be taken from another website. Are they personal or not personal? Do they have various sizes? Is the quality level "even" and "balanced" or is the quality a variety between "worse snapshot" and "high class photography"? Do they have any personal notes, descriptions, feelings, whatever? Or are they just simply tagged or subjected with the same line through the whole stream? Interesting are also the sort of comments they make. What do they comment? Just kids photos or even other photos? Do they have contacts with regular and legit lookalike photo streams or do they have greyman or only other "insecure" photostreams as contacts? * Last sort: The "real" Pro's... they have a pro account, their favorites don't show ANY noticeable problems, they are member in a lot of groups, well mixed, they have a nice profile and only "trustworthy" contacts. They don't act dubious in any way, comment everything they may like. Usually those accounts are built up over weeks, they have a good mix of photos, nice ones... good ones. Damnit! But there are still indicators about how they act: * Do they "tease" with photos? Like showing "their" children in the bathtub and maybe writing in the profile "we are nudists, if you want to see more, you have to add us as family contact"? * Do they comment that way? Like spreading all the times that their kids are less clothed often and that they just won't show photos like that public, but if you may be interested they would maybe add you as "friend"? * Do they add you as friend, showing some photos there which look nice, often enough also showing some nudity or even more "teasers" and when you don't re-cooperate within 24/48/72 hours they remove you again from their contacts without saying or asking anything (well, even when they ask...)? Just think about it a few moments... is that really how someone would act when he wants to show you his photos? No! Usually those people tease you to get access to your contact list, if you don't act the same way, they remove you. They don't want to show you their photos, they only do it because they want to see YOUR photos. When someone is really interested to show you his photos, he adds you to his contact list and won't remove you from that... even when you don't add them to your contact list too. Maybe he will send you a message and may ask you... but a legit person would never demand anything. * Are the "friend" photos totally untypical to the rest of the stream? Like when the public photos only show animals, buildings and landscapes and maybe a few kids photos and when you see the "yellow" photos you only see children in underwear or less which makes you wonder, why there is such a gigantic difference to the rest of the photos? Bingo! Be careful. Some legit people really do that just because they don't want to show photos of their kids in swimwear public, but show all other photos of their kids public, mostly no problem. But in some cases they only do it because they hope to get the same sort of photos from others too. * Are the photos personal? Sometimes when you look through a stream you get a bit of a curious feeling. The photos there appear totally unpersonal, like they were taken just from a third perspective. That is an indicator that the person might be a photographer, but when it's a photographer it can easily be found out. Mostly they are already telling it, but you can also see it at their streams, a lot of photographers have thousands of photos they show via their stream. But there are also people showing photos of their "own" children where you may think, that these kids appear on the photos like they were taken from a third person. Often combined just with a name as subject line, no real descriptions, nothing personal. Is that really how a mom/dad/relative would act? Not really. When you are related to a child and have a "family stream", you tell something about your photos or what happened. * What camera models are they using? There were already people on flickr with photos taken by 20, 30, 40 different digital cameras. Funny, huh? Especially when the technical stuff is also from various brands and quality. Who would buy a Nikon for 3.000 Dollars, a Canon for 4.000 Dollars, a Sony for 2.000 Dollars, lenses for a few ten thousand dollars and also 20 different point and shoot cameras? True! Nobody... Like being told, those are just indicators, no facts. It may help you a lot, but don't start to witch hunt just because one or two of these details may fit to a person! Just be careful, if you have a "bad" feeling, don't add people to your contacts. Look at them carefully, watch their streams! It already tells a lot and you can avoid 98% of these creeps. Don't hesitate to ask other members about them, when you see them on other contact lists too. Usually they already can tell you something about a person. Do it BEFORE you add them to your contact list. Most people on flickr are totally fine and okay, it is only about the few ones which are not, so don't be too "overprotective" or overcautious. And don't give up the fun you have just because there's a handful of people around the world which are not trustworthy/honorable/respectful. Those people you will find anywhere around the whole world. Have Fun! Thanks to JuVi_Sportfo for this.



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