There’s a chance you may skip this blog post thinking to yourself: This will never happen to my child. I have a tight reign on my kids—they know better. The chances of an inappropriate photo getting circulated are pretty much zero.

To which I would promptly administer this two-step reality check:

  • The #1 truth in parenting is you never have as much control as you think you have.
  • The #2 truth in parenting is never—and I mean never—say (to yourself or out loud) that “this will never.”

From ‘Don’t’ to Damage Control

You’ve had the talk with your kids, however, if a romantic relationship (or a friendship) goes south, you have zero control over other people’s kids and their degree of common sense or ethics when it comes to uploading embarrassing photos of someone else.

The first line of defense is simply to reinforce to your kids to never (ever, ever, ever) share risky photos of themselves with anyone via any digital channel or allow any of photos to be taken of them. However, as we’ve all witnessed teens (as well as adults) disregard that warning every day.

So assuming you need to do some degree of damage control, where should you even begin to lasso in an embarrassing photo from the boundless byways of the Internet?

You simply move forward one step at a time and clog every leak you can. The bad news is once the photo is out of your hands, you lose all control and can never completely be assured that you’ve stopped the bleeding.

However, you can do damage control. So breathe and let’s get started:

How to remove embarrassing photos online?

Facebook (6 remove options)

  1. Ask the friend who uploaded the photo to remove it.
  2. Go to the image. Once you open it click ‘Options’ and then either ‘Report Photo’ or ‘Remove Tag.’
  3. Send an email to asking for the photo to be removed.
  4. In Facebook’s Help section, file a complaint using the Facebook Intellectual Property Infringement Form.
  5. In Facebook’s Help section, file a complaint using the Facebook Terms Violation Reporting Form.
  6. Facebook does have a Help Community that may be able to offer some suggestions—or at least offer you wisdom (and empathy).

Instagram (3 remove options)

  1. To de-tag, select ‘Hide from my profile’.
  2. Click on ‘More options’ and choose ‘Remove me from photo’.
  3. Report the photo as inappropriate

Twitter (1 remove option)

In the X Help section you can report abusive behavior of another user. You will be directed to a series of options that go into impressive detail about your complaint.

If a situation goes to the next level and there is true damage and malice, going to the local authorities is your next step, who will then direct you in filing legal charges.

Revenge porn and photo blackmail

Recent headlines speak loudly to the rise in and consequences of revenge porn and photo blackmail. In a major revenge porn case, Kevin Bollaert, 28, recently was found guilty in a San Diego court of identity theft and extortion. He faces up to 20 years in prison for extorting money from ex-girlfriends.

The United Kingdom is also onto something—it actually passed a law making posting nude photos of someone else as revenge a crime punishable with up to two years in prison.