How to protect your Profile Picture on the Internet
2 min read

How to protect your Profile Picture on the Internet

Protect your picture from people or organization that would like to use it without your permission. Protect yourself from fake or stolen identity.
How to protect your Profile Picture on the Internet

With the beginning of the Internet, the millenials generation started using nicknames. This phenomenon allowed people to be known for success or failures without revealing their real identity. The main advantage was, and still is, the ability to clear your record by changing your nickname and start a fresh new digital identity. In this regard, it is interesting to read the beginning of the Snowden's book. He nailed and explained well this reset button that is a new nickname.

But if you want to build an audience on Internet and get credit for your content creation, you should think about a formal presentation of yourself that people can trust and refer to. You cannot appear as Bl1nk123-est, the majority of people won't take it seriously. So you may want to use a real and good looking picture of yourself and use at least your first name as nickname. But remember that every piece of data on the Internet may be used against you one day, so you may want to protect this profile picture, as prevention.

In this blog, we are writing for privacy conscious people but it is even more important for exposed people such as journalist, politicians, soldiers, lawyers, CEOs, ...

1) Blur your picture - Good start

The first idea is to blur your picture so that the detail are fuzzier. It is a good starting point to protect your face from being used by others. You can use Gaussian fuzziness to achieve this. Depending of your need, you may blur your picture more or less.

This method works well for small screens. But it can be bad looking for larger screens and people see easily that you modified your picture.

2) Posterize your picture - Best practice

In my software library, I use both Adobe Lightroom and Affinity Photo to edit my pictures. Affinity Photo offers a very good editor to achieve the posterize transformation.  

In order to posterize a picture: open it with Affinity Photo; by default you are on the Layers panel; browse to the Adjustment panel and clic on Posterize. Now, you can choose how many colors you want to keep on your picture. The more colors, the more the picture will look like the original. You can choose between 4 and 9 colors to get a good result.

This way, your picture will be protected and un-useful for people or organization that would like to use it without your permission. If hackers want to use it to fake or steal your identity, they only have this 9 colors picture to do it. I am not 100% sure that this process helps to anonymize  your picture from facial identification though.

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