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How to Protect Your Facebook Photos

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Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends, catch up on current events and share cat videos.  One of the things people love to do is to share photos on the popular social network.  Given the vast openness of Facebook though, sometimes it's hard to make sure your personal photos aren't being downloaded and used by strangers.  Here are some easy tips on how to protect your photos on Facebook that anybody can implement.

The first thing you should do is set your privacy settings so that Facebook users who are not your friend can't like or see your photos.  To do this, click the Privacy settings icon at the top of the page.  It's the one that looks like a lock.

Next, click on "Who can see my stuff?"  From there, click on Friends or whoever else you want to restrict it to.  This will be the default privacy setting for everything you post going forward.

To change the privacy for past posts, pictures or albums, you'll need to go to each post or picture or album that you want to change, click Edit or the setting icon and set your desired privacy setting from the dropdown menu.

Here are some additional tips for keeping your photos private.

  • Keep personal photos personal.  If you don't want your boss or co-workers to see you in a skimpy bathing suit at the beach, don't upload a picture of yourself in a skimpy bathing suit at the beach.
  • Set the privacy settings of your albums.  Keep in mind, however, that just because you're only sharing your photos with your friends, that won't prevent anyone from being able to copy the URL of your image and share that with other people.
  • If you find that someone is using your photos, report it to Facebook.
  • If you want to show off professional photography, don't use Facebook.  Use something like Flickr that gives you more control over who can see your images.
  • Don't upload photos in high resolution.  Lower resolution photos still look good on most monitors and are much less likely to get ripped off and used for non-sanctioned commercial purposes.
  • Add a copyright notice in the caption of each image you upload.  This might not stop somebody from downloading it, but they won't be able to say they thought they could use it if it comes to legal action.
  • Add a watermark to your image.  A watermark identifies the image as yours and makes it much harder for someone to use it without giving you credit.  It also makes it very easy to identify as yours, giving them no legal standing.  Here's one solution for watermarking your photos.
  • Include your copyright info in the EXIF data.  The EXIF data is like a fingerprint for a photo.  It stores things like the settings used on the camera when taking the image, but it also allows you to put extra data, such as a copyright.  It is harder to change and is often overlooked when an image is copied.

Taking screenshots and using tools like Photoshop can overcome some of the solutions above, but that doesn't mean they should be ignored if you're concerned about people downloading and/or using the photos you post to Facebook.