PHOTO SHARE BEWARE: Social Media & Metadata

Photo Share Bewars: Social Media and Metadata - be careful of photo sharing.

We have long known that Social Media is a hotbed for theft of your images, and we have all gotten more careful — at least I hope so — about making sure our metadata has all our copyright information in it and registering our photographs with the Copyright Office (see © Is for Copyright).

Now, we should be somewhat O.K. and protected, right? Not so! A recent study by IPTC came out in March of 2013 showing otherwise.

IPT-what? One of the sections we fill out in our copyright templates or presets is labeled IPTC. IPTC stands for International Press Communications Council, and it is this council that did a study on social media.

You’ll notice, for example, that when you right-clicked on one of your images posted on Facebook, the metadata is not showing up. I know that I included the data in my images and did not strip it when I exported the file for the Internet.

Hmmm! NOT good! So I did some research and found the IPTC report that everyone should read.

With Margo’s information in mind, Apogee Photo Magazine contacted the IPTC and Michael Steidl, Managing Director of the IPTC, made these statements to APM:

“Our conclusion from the test results is that there are three categories of social media sites:
1.) The ones which preserve metadata in all available save-image-file-to-computer cases: Dropbox, Google+,, Joomeo, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Yfrog.

2.) The ones which preserve metadata in only one but not in all save-image-file-to-computer cases: Photobucket.

3.) The ones which don’t preserve metadata in any save-image-file-to-computer case: Facebook, Flickr, Pictify, Twitpic, Twitter.”

Here are the charts taken from the IPTC test results pages.
The first chart is showing what the colored dot icons represent
and the second chart shows the Test Results.

Michael Steidl tells us to pay attention to those gray icon dots, by saying,
“Be aware that grey buttons mean that a feature could not be tested as it is not supported by this site. Examples:, Joomeo, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Yfrog support only to either “Save As” or to download an image by user interface means but the image file which is finally stored to your computer includes the metadata – and that’s the goal and that’s good. That Dropbox and Google+ support both features (Save As and download) does not improve their quality of metadata management – which is good in both cases.”

Embedded Metadata Manifesto: Social Media sites - photo metadata test - ranking of the test results chart.

Embedded Metadata Manifesto: Social Media sites - photo metadata test results chart.

To learn more about the Test Procedures visit the Embedded Metadata Manifesto.

So, what should you do?

Quite simply, bit by bit, start replacing any older photograph that didn’t have a visible watermark on it with a new version that does.

Continue to embed a digital watermark into your images. If you haven’t been doing this, start now.

You may also consider posting images more sparingly, instead of whole albums at a time. If you don’t try to protect your images, no one else will do it for you.

Enjoy your social media sharing of images, but take all the precautions you can to protect those images from being stolen.

Apogee Photo Magazine supports the Embedded Metadata Manifesto.

by Margo Taussig Pinkerton (aka, TBC-The Barefoot Contessa) and Apogee Photo Magazine

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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