You, groups, flickr and privacy

Most of the time people join flickr to showcase their photos, to get faves, and to get comments (hopefully both positive and constructive) to enable them to improve their photography. The photos you upload are shown in your flickr Photostream (or Camera Roll) which you can browse and put into Albums. You can create your own Galleries of your (and other people’s) images; Fave images that appear in your Activity stream (see later) and Follow people whose photos you like.

We’ll start by looking at the default privacy settings you can apply to the images you upload.┬áThe Settings page is accessed from your profile tab …

… which gives you access to a page with these headings …

… clicking on Privacy and Permissions brings up this screen – from which you should first look at Defaults for new uploads

Read carefully the Note: “if you add something to a group pool, that group’s members will be able to view and add notes, comments or tags, regardless of privacy settings.” There’s no privacy within a group. All members of the group can see all members’ photos. If you’ve declared your image to have restricted viewing to Friends, or Family however they will not be visible for public viewing in the group, even though the group page might be visible for public viewing.

After uploading your photos they will (unless you’ve changed the default settings) appear by default in the Activity stream which you can access from the flickr logo …

… from which you will also be able to see the images of the people and groups you follow. This is the default view when you open Flickr on a mobile device.

Any photo you fave is then attached to your account so that you can return to view it on a later occasion.

It is also possible – unless you’ve prevented it – for someone to download the photo, or add it to their own Photostream as their own! You might wish to check your settings to prevent that happening.

… and …

… so it’s important that you know what you’re doing when you follow someone – I certainly wouldn’t recommend the default setting of “Anyone”.

There are occasions however when you might wish to keep your photos completely private, or to share them privately within a Group. The settings in flickr to allow this are not exactly as intuitive as they might be so this post continues by seeking to help understand how you can “hide” your photos from the Public photostream, but to show them within a Group. Let’s start there.

Groups can either be Public, open to invited membership (or upon application to join) and then also to be Private. Note especially carefully the note attached to Invite-Only Group which can be either Public or Private … “Anyone can view an Invite-Only group page …”

The last case is obviously the most restrictive and in this situation a Group is setup by a Flickr member and they invite either existing Flickr members, or non-members to join the group.

They will be sent an invite to join flickr, and the Group, as a member. You can therefore appreciate that you have to be a flickr member to view Photos which are in a Group. However if they’re not hidden from the Activity Stream by changing the default privacy settings (as above) and if it isn’t a Private group – they’ll still be visible to anyone unless you’ve also changed your search profile …

For the Invite-Only Group which has not been declared Private it is important to note that anyone (even non-Flickr members) can view the group page, so as we shall next, if you want your photos to be completely invisible to the outside world, you’ll have to do something else to make them invisible!!

If you want to keep your photos visible only to members of a Group, you need to specify on the Default privacy settings page either “Your friends”, or “Your family” depending upon the nature of the Group; similarly you should restrict Comments (and Notes, Tags and People) to “Your friends and family”.

However these settings will then apply to every image that you upload and that might be more privacy than you really want, so you are able to choose the level of privacy on an image by image basis after you’ve uploaded them. This is done by looking at the information attached to an image after you’ve clicked on it in your Photostream …

… so, as an alternative, you could leave your Photostream relatively open using settings similar to the ones in the screenshots above and then restrict viewing of individual photos to Friends, or Family, etc. within Groups.

I hope this helps.

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