Thought those Caribbean vacation photos you posted on Flickr were only for your friends and/or family to see? Think again…
Last Saturday, photo sharing site Flickr, a Yahoo!-owned company, admitted to a software bug that made non-public (private or viewable only by friends and family) photos on the site visible to the public for 20 days. Any photos uploaded between April and December 2012 were accessible to the public between January 18th and February 7th, 2013, even if your privacy settings indicated those photos were to be private or shared with friends and family only. The company stated that despite this privacy lapse, no photos were accessible or discoverable on public search engines; however, any Flickr user could have browsed upon your racy (and what you thought were supposed to be private) photos and saved/shared them.
Flickr Vice President Brett Wayn apologized to affected customers, adding that “protecting your privacy is one of [Flickr’s] highest priorities.” Unfortunately for its customers, even with the company’s stated priority of protecting privacy, this apparently could still mean occasional public exposures for up to three weeks (more than enough time for any creep to come across your photos and do with them whatever he or she pleases).
Although Flickr customers could not have done anything to prevent this unfortunate privacy lapse, people should still take the time to think twice about posting “private” photos to internet photo-sharing sites. Even after taking diligent steps to ensure Flickr’s privacy settings are appropriately set, you should still ask yourself, “If these photos were accidentally released to the world to see, would I still be comfortable going out in public the next day?”