How Your Profile Image Can Help People Track You Down and Stalk You
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The Internet Patrol - Patrolling the Internet for You
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You may think that you are being oh-so-careful with your Google profile, Match.com profile, Facebook profile, or other social media or dating site (or other) profile. You never use your full real name publicly, you don’t share your address or where you work. But if you have an image in your profile that has ever been published anywhere else on the Internet, it can be very easy to use Google’s image matching search engine to quickly discover any information associated with that image anywhere online.

Here’s how it works. Someone grabs the image from your profile, and plugs it in to Google’s image search engine, at images.google.com.


Take this picture, for example, of our publisher, Anne Mitchell:

anne-face

 

All we had to do was drag it onto the search bar at images.google.com:

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google-images-search

 

google-image-search-anne

 

And..the results:

 

 

anne-images-publisher

 

Ok, you say, so what, it’s common knowledge that Anne’s ISIPP Publishing is the publisher of those sites.

Ah, not so fast. And that’s not the point. Look at this picture of Anne:

 

anne-official-picture

 

Now, pretend this is your picture. And you think it’s a pretty decent picture, so you decide to put it up on Match.com, or OkCupid.com, or another site like that. Or pretend it’s your daughter or your mother, and they are putting it up on their Facebook page.

Now, somebody wants to know more about you, or your sister or mother (or imagine this is a picture of a man, and it’s you, or your brother, father or son). Someone wants to track them down – figure out where they live, where they work.

 

anne-official-pic-google-images-results

 

That stalker is just one hop away from knowing exactly where Anne works and lives, so he can walk into her office and blast her away (obviously he is a spammer who is ticked off at her for writing part of our Federal anti-spam law):

 

skitched

 

So, the lesson here is, if you put pictures of yourself (or, ahem, your children) on the Internet, don’t think you are safe from being tracked down or stalked just because you don’t include your name or other identifying information. The picture is the identifying information!

If you want to play with Google’s image search yourself, go to images.google.com.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
Click for amount options
Other Amount:
What info did you find here today?:

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