Thursday, May 23Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

How my photos ended up on a ‘sugardaddy’ site

Many of us upload selfies of photos of things we have done to social media so we can share with our friends, family, and other virtual acquaintances. Internet search engines have clocked onto the popularity of images and allow us to search images across the web just like we search key words. Websites like and allow us to conduct reverse image images.

Conducting reverse image searches is useful and advisable. Why? Because if you have ever been a victim of identity theft you will want to know who has stolen your pictures and impersonating you elsewhere on the world wide web. I did this recently and found a picture of myself: someone was pimping me out as a sugar daddy! I am not the first nor will I be the last to have a selfie stolen and misused. A number of us have had photos copied from social media and re-used on dating sites, fake networking sites, or adult sites.

It is not photos of people that have been stolen and recycled to make fake profiles. Many have had artistic photos they have taken of landscapes or wildlife stolen by others who then pass of the work as their own. This has led to online war of words and legal action.

What can you do if someone is using your pictures without your consent?
If someone is pretending to be someone else with your pictures or you discover your photos have been stolen you should contact the company in writing and issue a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice. A DMCA takedown notice is a notification to a company, usually a website or a search engine, that they are either hosting or linking to copyright-infringing material. DMCA provides them notice to remove the copyrighted works (give them the necessary evidence that the images are yours via a screenshot).

An easy way to protect your images and deter others from stealing and reusing them is watermarking them. Simply add/write your name, Twitter handle, Instagram username subtly over part of your picture.

Some find watermarks tacky and sometimes desperate. I would argue, at least it spreads the name associated with the image. You want people to see your pictures and know it is yours i.e. Lilly the aspiring doctor; and not Lilly the weirdo from SnapChat. If you do decide to watermark pictures keep the imprint small and in a place that does not ruin the image.

It is up to you which photos you decide to add a tag/watermark to, do not feel like you have to add it to everything. Do not stolen pictures put you off taking pictures. Enjoy yourself and capture the moments so you can re-live them in the future.