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Readers Chime in on Photo Privacy

In today's paper, I wrote a story about a Washington mom and her mishap with the private settings on Flickr -- photos of her children skinny-dipping, which she thought were private, turned out not to be.

Of course when it comes to the Internet, nothing is sacred. In college a friend showed me how he could see all the photos on my computer -- they weren't even on a picture sharing Web site! -- with a couple of keystrokes, thanks to our dorm's holey network server. I quickly ran upstairs and unplugged my computer before he got into anything too embarrassing (or any of my term papers)!

Okay, so my friend was a tech savvy computer science major. But readers were quick to point out that if there's a will, there's always a way to see "private" material online -- even after it's deleted:

Reader "justjunkemail" wrote: "I've been in and around technology for 30 plus years and there is NOTHING private about the Internet. Someone, somewhere, somehow has access to what you post up to a server."

Reader "ltm353" commented that, "As a rule of thumb: if you wouldn't want it on the front page of a newspaper, don't post it. After all this time and technology, seems a wax seal is more secure."

And "jcovey" noted: "why didn't she just email the pictures to her parents? why involve a web site with a server that will archive copies of those pictures perhaps indefinitely?"

Some tried to provide the mom with answers to how someone bypassed her privacy settings. Reader "annoyed5" wrote: "This woman's Yahoo account was hacked. She probably checked her mail from a hotel computer and a keylogger grabbed her password. Since your Yahoo password is also your Flickr password, the hacker checked her photostream for fun, and flipped the settings to public thinking it was funny."

And many readers blasted the woman, Meredith Massey for even uploading nude photos of her children on the Internet. Washingtonpost.com's OnParenting blog first wrote about this.

In her defense, the photos were more embarrassing than X-rated. Think about all those sudsy childhood bath time snapshots that parents love to print and frame. They're definitely horrifying when you're in middle school, and your friends spot them hanging on the wall -- or, even more so, when your mom whips out the family photo album to share. But they're nowhere near pornographic.

--Kendra Marr

By Sara Goo  |  February 21, 2008; 1:02 PM ET  | Category:  Kendra Marr
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That is why you should avoid typing in your passwords, credit card numbers, etc on public computers and have a strong anti-keylogging protection installed on your home PC. I recommend using Anti-Keylogger(http://www.anti-keyloggers.com/)

Posted by: Michael | February 21, 2008 6:08 PM

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