Q Can I protect my family photos online so they
aren't copied or stolen?
A Photo sharing is one of the most popular
activities online, and photos are uploaded to the Internet every
day on social networks, swapped via email and posted on
How many? Flickr hit the 6 billion mark this year and grows by
about one billion photos a year. Those numbers pale in comparison
to Facebook's photo stats. The site averages 6 billion photo
uploads each month, and was set to hit 100 billion photos this
As private as folks may try to be, there is a real risk that
uploaded photos can be used without permission on inappropriate
sites, for marketing purposes or by scam artists. And while there
is no perfect way to protect an uploaded photo from theft, simple
security precautions can help deter misuse.
Avoid using tags. Tagging friends in a photo may cause the photo
automatically to be shared with a larger network. Avoid identifying
tags or even using full names when adding photo captions.
Double-check your privacy settings. On Facebook, check photo
settings and set them conservatively. Security defaults can change,
so make it a habit to double-check settings every few weeks.
Make your preferences known. Even if you're just sharing with
close friends and family, post a reminder that you'd like the
photos to remain private by putting a note in the comment sections
of your photos.
Share in secure social networks. Consider setting up a
photo-sharing site with a very small social network of family and
friends, rather than posting every photo on Facebook or Flickr.
Upload in low resolution. This usually means your photos can be
seen well enough online, but it would be harder to make a large
quality reproduction if the image was stolen.
Put a copyright on it. You can do this in comments or use
photo-editing software to add it directly to the photo. The
copyright symbol sends a clear message and can usually be found in
the software's Insert menu under Symbols.
Watermark your photos. Applying a watermark can prevent your
photo from being easily copied. Software is available at
PicMarkr.com and VisualWatermark.com for Macs and PCs.
It is important to remember that digital photos posted on the
Internet almost never can be fully protected. The bottom line: If
you don't want anyone to use your photo, don't post it online.
Q My daughter dropped her cell phone in the
school toilet accidentally. Is there any chance it can be
A The answer is yes! Water damage is one of the
most common causes of damage for mobile phones-and many other
electronic devices that end up in the toilet, the washing machine
or even a puddle. Before you panic, try these simple steps to save
your waterlogged gadget.
• Don't turn it on. It may be tempting to see if it still
works, but don't press the "on" button. Attempting to power up your
device might short-circuit it and cause unnecessary damage.
• Remove the battery. You may notice that there is a water
damage sticker that turns color if the phone is
submerged. Even if the sticker turns color, your phone may
still come back to life if dried out properly.
• Don't dry your phone out with a hair dryer, microwave or
oven. Blot the phone dry with a paper towel to the best of your
ability. Then submerge the phone components in dry rice
overnight. Rice naturally draws the water away from the
You can also put the device in a sealed plastic bag with the
silica gel packets that comes in the toes and pockets of shoes and
• Do be patient. Phones can take up to a week to dry out
• Wait at least 24-48 hours or as long as you can before
reinstalling the battery and turning the phone on.
• Don't forget to disinfect. Even if your phone landed in a
toilet of fresh water, germs may be present. Use a disinfectant
wipe to clean the outside of the phone once the device has dried
Sharon Cindrich is a mother of two tech-savvy kids from Virginia Beach. Learn more at sharoncindrich.com.
See more of Sharon's stories here.
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