Monday, July 2, 2007

I don't want my picture posted on my friend's web site. Am I a privacy nut?

Dear HTT,

A friend of mine keeps a personal website with tons of personal information posted. I, on the other hand, am an extremely private person who doesn't want anything personal posted anywhere.

My friend and I travel together and he posts photos from our trips. That's always been fine with me because he used an online service that
required an email invitation or password to view the photos and it was
nice to share among friends. Now he's switched to a different service that allows anyone anywhere to view our photos. Granted, not many people out of our circle of friends visit his website and wouldn't have a direct link to his photo album. And I doubt strangers would look at another stranger's vacation photos. But they are out there and I feel very uncomfortable with it.

I realize that I am a little nutty about personal privacy, so that's why I need your advice. Am I being too nutty? And how offensive is it for me to ask him to password-protect his online photo album?

Dear Private,

You might be asking the wrong person, since I put personal anecdotes out there all the time and practically beg people to read them!

Then again, self-centered though this may be, I mostly only talk about myself in my personal posts. When I do mention friends, I don’t give their names, and sometimes I change details about them to protect the innocent. I think I’ve posted only one picture of a friend, and I asked her first if she minded. (She didn’t.) I have talked about family, but only in general terms, not naming any names.

So, no, I don’t think you’re being irrationally protective of your privacy. In my case, vanity would be an even bigger issue. I wouldn’t necessarily want the whole world to have access to a picture of me, say, climbing on horse when I was in Costa Rica. (I wasn’t exactly nimble at it.) And I’m sure people have plenty of other unflattering pictures of me that I’d rather were kept in a drawer somewhere, in the old-school manner of photo storage before it was easy to dump all 500 vacation pictures on a web site.

But, whatever the reason, be it privacy or vanity, I don’t think you’re being nutty. I don’t know the ins and outs of all the picture-posting options out there, but just the other day my brother was extolling the virtues of a site that lets you password protect some albums and not others, easily. So, given that you don’t need to be some kind of web programming genius to do it, I think it wouldn’t hurt to ask your friend to install some kind of privacy feature on his pages. Or, at least, to take down the pictures of you.

Take care,