As child of the 80s, I am thankful that my childhood happened without cellphones and social media networks. My embarrassing photos reside safely in a large plastic box—at my mom’s house. That was until recently. My mom managed to unearth an extremely embarrassing photo from middle school, scan it, and post it to Facebook. (I have to admit I was impressed with her new computer skills, but also horrified.)
I had to go over some Facebook photo etiquette with her, so I thought I’d share some of my advice here.
- Don’t be a “phototerrorist.” I expressed to her that even though she thought that photo was hilarious, it only reminded me of a difficult time in my life–a time when I was chubby, unfashionable and bullied. Of course, she didn’t know that. She was not trying to hurt me. But you never know how someone feels about a particular photo and what it might represent.
- Don’t do anything to a Facebook friend that you would NOT want done to you. Some people love to post horrible photos of their friends. These people cannot be trusted. If somebody posts a horrible photo of you and you ask them to take it down and they don’t, you might want to re-evaluate that friendship in real time.
- To be sure you have permission to post a photo, make people pose. Some people love to pose for the camera. Most likely they do not care where that photo ends up. Asking to take their photo and asking if they mind if you put it on Facebook is the polite way to get consent to use their image.
- If you are not a large corporation or organization, you can probably get away with stealing copyrighted images and posting them wherever and whenever you want. But you are stealing and stealing is against the law. Using images that are not designated as “royalty free” is illegal. And just because you reference where an image came from, that doesn’t mean you have rights to use it. Facebook does not allow users to post copyrighted images, although sometimes people do.
- Cute pictures of your pets are usually safe choices. (See Percy, right.)
Have you ever had a bad experience with photos posted on you on Facebook? What safe social media etiquette tips can you add?
Elizabeth McBride is the director for intergenerational programming and editor of Cafe.