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The 6 commandments of online photo sharing

Thou shalt not post pics of anyone making out -- yes, even you. It's both humiliating and horrifying.
Thou shalt not post pics of anyone making out -- yes, even you. It's both humiliating and horrifying.
  • Some people snap and share photos online with reckless abandon
  • But the click of a mouse can cost someone a job, a relationship or their dignity
  • Do not post photos of anyone doing anything illegal
  • Check with your friends before posting pics of them -- or anybody -- in a bathing suit

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and book Stuff Hipsters Hate. When they're not trolling Brooklyn for new material, Ehrlich works as an associate editor at and Bartz is news editor at Psychology Today.

(CNN) -- Remember photo albums? Not those arbitrary online groupings of digital snaps with titles like "Big Pimpin' Up in NYC," but actual albums -- hulking books with noisy cellophane pinning prints to tacky white cardboard?

Back in the day, they housed the only tangible remnants (film negatives aside) of important moments: poodle-haired, greasy-faced teenagers grinning toothily in advance of formal dances, Aunt Susie winning the annual Fourth of July potato salad cook-off, and so on.

Cameras were a luxury, a roll of film was finite, and if anyone every wanted to see a former scene in Technicolor tableau, he or she had to track down the camera owner, haul the correct photo album from the dusty shelf and flip to the correct page. As a result, nonblockbuster moments were rarely captured, and embarrassing or incriminating pics almost never saw the light of day.

Nowadays, it's pretty much a selfish sin to keep a photo to yourself. We snap and share with reckless abandon.

This gives you a scary amount of control over other people's public personas; with the click of a mouse, you can cost someone his or her job, relationship, or dignity.

Therefore, we give you: the six commandments of photo sharing.

(Incidentally, while we'll focus on Facebook photos, the same goes for tag-able Flickr photos and really any image you send out into the world via a blog, tweet [cough, Weiner, cough cough] or other online platform.)

Thou Shalt Not Post Pics of...

...Anyone doing anything illegal.

This includes but is not limited to: streaking, sharing a joint (What up, Michael Phelps!), hanging out on the wrong side of a "no trespassing" sign, and raising a glass with a 19-year-old cousin. I don't care whether it's tagged or not, if it goes online the subject is screwed. In fact, delete it. It never happened. What "no trespassing" sign?

...Anyone obviously inebriated.

Do we really need to tell you this? Apparently, yes, based on the bevy of despicable photo blogs devoted to the topic. They feature shots of barely conscious imbibers who should be in the back of ambulances, not curled up around toilets while their friends pull out cameras. (We're not linking because the creators don't deserve the pageviews.)

So here you go: DON'T TAKE OR POST SUCH PICTURES. We also don't recommend getting that slizzared, but hey, this is Netiquette, not Life Advice.

...Anyone making out.

Wedding kissies are one thing, slobbery tongues are another. It's humiliating for the photographed and horrifying to helpless witnesses.

Thou Shalt Check with the Subjects Before Posting...

...Anyone doing anything their health insurance might not like.

Well, welcome to 1984: Insurers can, and do, scour your Facebook account and deny claims based on what they find there. A recent article in "SELF" magazine tells of a young woman booted from her depression-related disability insurance after she posted pics of herself smiling with friends.

Now, obviously we're not suggesting you only post photos of yourself looking miserable (or, alternatively, scuttle under a rock and erase your online presence in an attempt to outmaneuver HMOs), but do play it safe. Get a thumbs-up (figuratively, of course, not of the Like variety) before posting pics of a pal, say, sucking on a cancer stick. of anyone in a bathing suit.

There are a few people who keep their Facebook profiles bikini-free, either because of body image or professional concerns (yeah, if you're FB friends with your boss, you might not want her to see you flouncing around in a stringy triangle top, clutching a coconut-shell cocktail). It never hurts to check beforehand (and hey, if she gives you the red light, you've got some instant blackmail material).

...throwback photos.

There is but one flaw with the photo album/lock-box comparison: the mighty scanner. Your friend might find that photo of herself as a pizza-faced 13-year-old with her arm deep in a Doritos bag hilarious, or she might find it completely devastating, depending on which way her self-esteem headed post zit-addled adolescence. Ask in advance of launching that well-intentioned trip down Memory Lane.


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