Woman's 'Private' Facebook Photo Goes Cruelly Viral in Crucial Lesson for Us All

Caitlin Seida had every right to post a photo of herself on Facebook dressed in a Lara Croft costume and looking pretty damn fierce. Unfortunately, Caitlin learned the hard way that a terribly mean website, whose only purpose on Earth is to critique and make fun of the appearances of others, also had every right to snatch her photo from the site and plaster it onto theirs. It rapidly amassed some of the meanest comments she had ever read about herself.

Caitlin says most of the anonymous remarks were posted by other women, something that didn't shock her in the least, and ranged from the stupid and silly "Fridge Raider" to the unbelievably hurtful suggestion that she kill herself and "spare everyone's eyes." 


Caitlin hadn't restricted her Facebook privacy settings to "friends only," which meant she didn't have a legal right to the photos she posted on the site and they could technically be used on other websites. This factor also made it near bloody impossible for her to try and get her picture removed from every site in which it appeared. Since the photo had gone viral and had been reposted on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and other sites, Caitlin had to issue hundreds of copyright violations to various websites. But like a pandemic disease, the sharing of her photo had gotten so out of control by then that it was physically impossible for Caitlin to target every website on which it appeared. 

I really feel for Caitlin. As a writer, I've read my share of horrifyingly mean comments posted anonymously and directed right at me. Some people have called me out by name and suggested I kill myself over an opinion I had that would neither affect them nor change the world. The difference is when you choose to put yourself out there, you have to take on a toughen up, buttercup attitude toward comments. But what purpose does it serve anyone to comment nastily on someone's physical appearance? How can anyone get so riled up over the way someone else looks? 

Remember that there are ways to protect your photos on Facebook:

1. Go to Albums. Click on an album and then click on the gray globe that appears beneath it. A pull-down menu will offer the options Public, Friends, Only Me. Click on Only Me or Friends.

2. Don't forget: You can't make cover photos private so be careful about the picture you choose.

3. For individual photos that are not in an album, you'll have to go to each picture, click "edit," and adjust the setting so that it's not public.

How would you feel if your photos suddenly went viral? 

Image via MoneyBlogNewz/Flickr

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