The Itsy, Bitsy Spider

by Todd Bertsch

Do you have a personal website or share personal photos on the internet? If you’re an avid internet surfer, like myself, then most likely you do, or will soon.

Have you ever used Google’s Image Search Tool (a search engine created by Google that only shows images in the search results)? Or, any other search engines’ image search tool? Google started this trend, and now everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. As with anything, there’s the good and bad side to this new feature. I’ve encountered both views and thought it was worth writing about. I’ll explain below with real life examples. You can then form your own opinion; if you LIKE or DISLIKE this new tool on Google.

Borrowing…I use this term lightly (Images/Photos)
I have a friend who is studying to be a teacher. She creates many power point presentations for her class presentations. Take a guess where she gets all of her images? She gets them from…Google Image Search. She tells me with excitement. “It’s so EASY! I just love it. All of these images at my fingertips”. True. Very True. But who owns these images? Are their copyright restrictions, I ask. Just because they are on the internet doesn’t make them fair game for everyone to use. I know this has the magnitude to be its own article, but it does tie in well with the issue copyright infringement that is growing rapidly.

Personal Pictures
Do you take digital photos? Do you post them on your personal site? Do you post them to a free photo center like “Fotki” or “Shutterfly”? If yes, please be aware that these photos could possibly be getting indexed by the search engines as well. Which would make them assessable to the world via Image search tools like Google’s.

Family Story
Consider the following situation. A friend of mine takes some pics of my family at a birthday party. She then posts them to a free online photo center or even her own personal family website. This friend, being very organized, names the photos appropriately. For example, “BertschFamily_birthday1.gif”, Well guess what? This photo directory could be getting indexed by Google. Example: Do a search for “Bertsch Family” and see what comes up. I bet these people have no idea there photos are available to millions. Pretty freaky? Yes, I think so. Be very careful what you and your friends and family members do with your personal photos. I really don’t want to see my families photos being brought up in search results. Do you want yours?

I believe it’s all about education. Google and others must educate users on what they’re viewing, uploading and/or possibly downloading. Google does have a small paragraph which is linked off of their home page and it legally covers them from be sued. However I think it’s a rather weak attempt and needs to be more prominent on the actual Image Search Results Page. Here’s the link if you want to read it. It’s question #2. If I were you I would just be careful of where you upload your personal photos, and ask the service if they get indexed by search engines.

So what do think? Pretty neat tool Google created? Or, does it bother you that your personal photos could be accessed by millions of people across the world?

If your photos are out there, the itsy, bitsy spider could crawl and index them. Be careful. Just don’t get bitten!

Design Dump –

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