Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Use Caution if you allow visitors to post unmoderated pics to your sites.

There are a lot of tools available that will allow webmasters to allow visitors to upload pictures and then make them immediately available to other visitors.

On one of the webmaster boards I frequent, someone raised the question of checking uploaded pics for inappropriate content. In other words, the uploaded pics were visible immediately.

This raises a lot of legal issues. Remember that there are a lot of lawyers in this country and they make money by suing people.

Here is a nightmare to consider

  • You create a site for yourself that allows uploads that are immediately visibile to visitors
  • You have no age restrictions or age verification for visitors
  • Some idiot uploads underage porn
  • A 15 year old kid visits your site and sees the pic
  • His parents call the feds to have you arrested and then the fine law firm of Cheetum, Screwem and Fleecem and sue you for your entire net worth.

Life suddenly isn’t as much fun as it was.

How do you protect yourself….??

  • You would need to have a mechanism to remove offending material ASAP. ie. user reporting, artificial intelligence, looking for clues in the file name.. (ie if you are running a travel site and the file name contains things like teen, nubile, hot, etc..)
  • Have disclaimers on the page that push the responsibility for content onto the poster. If you get a decent amount of traffic, then you want to consider having a lawyer who specializes in this area review or write your disclaimer. (Warning, some lawyers are experts at parting you with your hard earned cash.. Caveat Emptor!!)
  • Have a means of tracking who actually posted something.. however proxies can mask the trail a bit.
  • Be prepared to immediately remove any offending material.. Ie. If you are a mountain climber and the only operator of the site, you better back a laptop, satellite modem and generator while you are hiking at 14k feet so you can prevent the kiddies from being permanently scarred.
  • Only allow uploads to be viewed by people who have subscribed and agreed that they will not sue you for ‘offensive content’.
  • Only allow registered users to upload pics. Part of the registration agreement is that the user/poster is responsible for all content.

No matter how you slice it, there is a certain amount of risk in letting users post unmoderated uploads that are visible to your visitors.

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