Every day DMCA.com professional staff handle takedown cases for clients who have found their personal and very intimate pictures, or videos, published online on for all to see. Their stories and situations are heartbreaking. Almost always their reputation has been severely impacted by the publication of these deeply personal photos or videos on the internet.
Shockingly, in most cases, these very intimate, personal pictures or videos were found online by family, friends or even coworkers. To make matters worse, often the photos or videos were taken years earlier, long forgotten and long before a current marriage, relationship or employment.
In the age of powerful internet search engines and social networking it is too easy for anyone (husband, boss, clients, co-workers, parents etc.) to connect your name to recently published, intimate pictures or videos that have been uploaded onto the internet.
While we cannot stop what has already happened we want to stop this tragic situation from happening to you, your family or friends.
DMCA.com staff has put together a Top 10 list on how to prevent this tragedy from happening to someone you know and love. We have also put together a Take Action Guide on what to do if you find yourself in this situation. Although wrongful publication of personal pictures happens to both men and women,
A large portion of the personal cases we see are women and teenage girls. Read DMCA's Social Media Survival Guide
These 10 steps have been written for women to help protect them against online harassment.
Top 10 Steps to avoid having compromising photos of you published online.
- Do NOT take pictures (or videos) of yourself in any compromising position especially in various stages of undress - period.
It sounds obvious but remember once it's digital and on the internet EVERYONE can see your picture or video. When a picture or video of you is being taken, always try to imagine your loved ones, employers or respected peers viewing this image or video. Stop and think - Is this something you would be ok with them seeing?
- Note: Every device that has a camera is (somehow) connected to the internet.
- If you do take pictures (or videos) of yourself in the nude (or in various stages of undress) do NOT send them to anyone - period. The risk is simply too high. Even if you completely trust the person.
- What happens if their phone, or laptop or pc is stolen?
- What happens if their email is hacked? Your picture can be shared for the whole world to see.
- What happens when your relationship ends and this person decides to share your photos or videos with others
- PARENTS (guardians, uncles, aunts and grandparents) talk to your children and pre-teens, about the dangers of taking these types of pictures. What they see as innocent play can quickly be turned into something undesirable and often with tragic consequences. An innocent picture of "mom" can make it online all too easily.
- No images or videos of your children or their friends in ANY state of undress, even jokingly is acceptable.
- How soon should you speak to your children about this? NOW
- as soon as they have or have access to a camera, a phone with a camera, or a webcam
- or when they begin to play with your phone.
- If someone takes an intimate, private, personal picture (or video) of you ask them to delete it. Make sure you see that it has been deleted. If you are not interested in sharing this personal photo (or video) with all of your friends, family, co-workers, future in-laws or husband, then ask for it to be deleted. Make sure you see that it has been deleted.
- If the picture(s) (or videos) was taken by a professional make certain you own the copyright - no exceptions.
- make sure you own / have the original memory card the photos (or videos) were taken on - or see they are deleted.
- If someone has compromising pictures or video of you be firm in your request for them to delete it. Let them know you are serious about your privacy and security. Do not be intimidated. Get help if you need it. Parents, School, Police anyone with authority. In most countries the owning and distributing pictures or video of anyone "underage" is illegal.
- Friends don't let friends get photographed (or video'd) in compromising positions or in various stages of undress. Especially when partying. This is not funny. Remember everyone at the party you are at has a camera and that camera is connected to the internet.
Gone are the days of innocently "flashing the camera".
- Do not post or upload intimate, personal pictures or videos onto any website - period. This includes all social media and dating sites. Unless you want to share that picture or video with everyone on the internet - including your friends, family, employer and church.
- Friendships and intimate relationships are not always forever. Disgruntled friends, ex-boyfriends etc. are often the top offenders in posting undesirable images or videos. Even if you completely trust the individual you are sending the images to what would happen if their phone, tablet, laptop or pc were stolen? What if their email account was hacked? Your images could end up in the wrong hands very quickly.
- Many clubs and public events have photographers that walk around taking pictures and video. Avoid them. If you do not want to find yourself posted on an internet site - DO NOT POSE for them.
- be clear with the photographer(s) - you do not give permission to be photographed. Where possible have a witness.
- Don’t be conned into taking ‘pretty’ pictures for a photographer who promises to make you a star. Check the credentials of anyone you are getting into a professional arrangement with and do not sign away your rights to your images. Have a professional negotiate a contract for you.
What to do when you find compromising pictures of you published online?
- Don't Panic. Respond quickly. Faster the better. Be confident. Get help.
- Contact the authorities - especially if you or the person in the picture or video were underage and especially if the perpetrator of this crime is known to you and you never gave permission for the pictures to be shared.
- Often the authorities can help with the perpetrators of the crime but are unable to act if the photos / video has been uploaded to servers located outside their jurisdiction. Be prepared to deal with getting your pictures / video taken down as a separate issue.
- Find as many copies and versions as you can. You are the best person to identify this content. Often it will be cropped or altered in some way so often you can identify it the quickest. Make a list. Like a weed if you can get at the source you can stop it from spreading. Often only one website was the source of the uploaded picture or video. It is important to get it removed from there and move on to the other sites, if there are any.
- Its wrong to assume that once your photo or video is off one (facebook) page the issue is resolved. It could have been copied and uploaded somewhere else. The longer the content has been up the more likely it has spread to other networks and websites.
- begin Processing (DMCA) Takedowns immediately! Faster the better. Do it now! Staying on top of getting your content taken down means you can stop or slow the spread. You can conduct takedowns yourself (DMCA.com has a very inexpensive DIY Program), use a lawyer or use a service like DMCA.com Professional Takedown Service. Regardless of the method you use, the quicker the better. Processing takedown can also help any legal action you have started or will start later. If you choose to conduct the process yourself here are a few important tips:
- Follow the (DMCA) Takedown process of website where you have found the pictures or video exactly. If the website has it's own policy follow that.
- do NOT be emotional in your description or request for removal
- do NOT tell a story or give background or incident details
- clearly the state facts related to the photo or picture usage - its your picture, or you are in it and you did not give permission to be used in this manner or you own the copyright.
If you have questions about your situation, we can help. Submit your takedown questions here: www.dmca.com/question. Be as detailed as possible. Include as many links as possible. Include complete details on content ownership and source.