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Consent for sharing photos and videos

Making sure you have consent to share a photo or video of someone helps keep online spaces safer for everyone.

In short:

  • Consent means genuine agreement to take part in an activity or for a specific thing to happen.
  • You should always ask for consent before sharing a photo or video.
  • If someone asks you to remove a photo or video, you should do it, no questions asked.
  • If a photo or video of you has been shared without your consent, ask the person who posted it to take it down, review your privacy settings, and make a report if it’s a nude or sexual image or video of you. 

What is consent and do I need it to share photos and videos?

‘Consent’ is when someone gives their permission. To be genuine, consent has to be ‘informed’ and ‘freely given’ – that means the person is clear about it, they fully understand what they’re agreeing to, and they have not been pressured into it.

If you’re planning to share any images or videos online, it’s best to make sure the person or people in the photos or videos are OK with it too. Ask yourself, ‘Do I have consent to share a photo or video of someone?’

It’s important that everyone in the photo or video is comfortable with it being shared, without any pressure from anyone else.

Also remember that consent can be reversed. So even if someone said yes to an image or video being posted, they can change their mind. If that happens you need to delete the photo or video from where it was posted, or edit them out of the shot.

Why is consent important for sharing photos or videos?

Sharing a photo or video of someone without their consent can have major consequences for both the person and for you. It can have social and mental health impacts on the person if they didn’t want it posted publicly, and sharing it can affect what others think of you.

Here are some issues to think about.

Digital footprint

Your digital footprint is a trail of data created from everything you do online. It can include anything you’ve posted, commented on, or liked, as well as photos or videos you’ve shared or been tagged in. If someone searches your name online they may find all of these things about you, which might impact your friendships, relationships and even potential new jobs. It’s important to look after your own digital footprint and not damage the digital footprint of other people because both shape the way others see you, now and in the future.

Cyberbullying or adult cyber abuse

It’s not OK to share photos or videos of someone to hurt, humiliate or make fun of them – this is online abuse. These kinds of posts can have a big impact on someone’s mental health, even if the person who shared them thought it was just for fun or a joke. They can also impact the reputation or digital footprint of the person who is bullied. So it’s important to stop and ask yourself why you’re posting something – if it’s hurtful to someone else, it’s best not to do it. Learn more about cyberbullying (of people who are under 18) and adult cyber abuse (if they are 18 or older).

Image-based abuse or ‘revenge porn’

This is when someone shares, or threatens to share, an intimate image or video of a person without their consent. An intimate image or video can include nude or sexual content, or it can be of someone without their religious or cultural clothing that they usually wear in public.

The content might be a screenshot, recording of a live chat, meme or even a fake or deepfake that has been edited to look like them. Read more about image-based abuse and what to do if someone is threatening to share your nudes.

What if someone has sent me unwanted nudes?

If someone sends you a random nude, that’s commonly called ‘cyberflashing’. Receiving unwanted nudes can be creepy and upsetting because it makes the interaction between the sender and you sexual without your consent, which is sexual harassment.

Unwanted nudes can show a body of any gender or sexual expression, or part of a body (like a ‘dick pic’). People may send nudes because they think it’s seductive or a turn on, or they’re hoping to receive a nude in return, or they might even trick you into sending a nude back so they can blackmail you – this is called ‘sexual extortion’ or ‘sextortion’.

What if I'm being blackmailed?

If someone tries to blackmail you by threatening to share an intimate image or video of you, that’s a type of image-based abuse called ‘sexual extortion’ (sometimes known as ‘sextortion’).

  • Do stop all contact with the person blackmailing you.
  • Do not pay the blackmailer or give them more money or intimate content.
  • Do report what’s happening.
  • Remember, it’s not your fault, even if you shared the intimate content with them in the first place – anyone can experience sextortion.

See our special advice page on How to deal with blackmail for more information.

Tips for sharing photos and videos

Once you make a post or share something online, you can lose control of the content and how other people share or use it. So when it comes to taking, uploading or sharing photos or videos, follow these tips.

  1. Ask before taking the photo or video

    When taking a photo or recording someone, it’s important to check why you’re doing it. Are you taking an image to mock someone? Are they comfortable having their image taken? If they aren’t, it’s probably best to put the phone or camera away.

  2. Ask before sharing photos or videos of people

    It’s that simple – if they say they’re uncomfortable with a photo or video being shared, then respect what they’ve said. Keep the photo or video to yourself or edit the person out. Even if they agree, don’t post the photo or video if you have any doubts about the impacts it may have now or later.

  3. Check any special rules

    Always follow the rules set by your school, sports team or other groups you’re involved with when using social media. For instance, some schools might say not to post pictures of anyone in school uniform. Also, many sports teams won't allow filming in changing rooms. Explore eSafety's Sports Hub to learn more about online safety in sport.

  4. If someone asks you to remove a photo or video of them, do it

    Try to imagine yourself in their position – if there was a photo or video of you that you didn’t want others to see, how would you feel? Respect goes both ways. If you respect your friends’ decisions and choices about their personal privacy, they’re more likely to respect yours too. When someone asks you to take down a photo or video you’ve posted of them, delete it. You may also need to ask others to stop sharing it and commenting. If you are unable to stop the spread of the photo or video, report it to the site, game or app that you used to post it so they can take it down. The eSafety Guide tells you how. You can also follow more advice on how to stop the image or video spreading

  5. Call out bullying or other abusive behaviour online

    If you’ve seen someone post a photo or video to humiliate or make fun of another person, you can choose to support the person being bullied – this makes you an upstander. An upstander is someone who helps the situation by creating a positive change, like reaching out to person being bullied, calling out the hurtful image or video in comments, or even saying something to the person being mean. If you feel comfortable and safe to do, supporting the person being bullied can help them a lot.

What should I do if someone shares my photo or video without consent?

Ask them to take it down

Let them know that you don’t feel comfortable with the photo and that you’d prefer if they didn’t have it online. If they are your friend, they should respect the choices and decisions you make about your personal privacy.  

Check your privacy settings and review tags

You can be in control of what you are tagged in and update settings to either review the photos you are tagged in, or make sure that no one is able to tag you. You can also update settings to only allow friends to see the photos you are tagged in. Check The eSafety Guide for how to update your privacy settings on different games, apps, websites or other online platforms.

Get support

If what has happened is really concerning you and you’re feeling overwhelmed handling it on your own, talk to a trusted adult. 

Talking to someone can make it easier to decide what to do and deal with the impact. 

You can also get help from confidential counselling and support services.

Screenshot, report and block on the platform

Online abuse is never OK, and eSafety is here to help. In some cases, the person responsible for the online abuse may be someone you know. Other times it may be someone completely unknown to you. No matter what the situation is, experiencing online abuse can be seriously distressing.

Remember, you don’t have to deal with online abuse on your own. It’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust, like a friend or family member. They can also help you report the abuse.

If you experience online abuse:

You can also read more detailed advice on what you can report to eSafety.

Prevent the image or video being shared

You can block your intimate image or video from being uploaded to specific platforms. You need to have a copy of the image or video, but you don’t need to send it to the platform – they will create a digital ‘fingerprint’ (or ‘hash’) instead.

If you’re under 18, you can use – a free online tool that prevents your image or video being shared on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Yubo, OnlyFans and Pornhub.

If you’re 18 or older, you can use – a free online tool that prevents your image or video being shared on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Bumble, OnlyFans and Reddit.

Something has happened

Call it out. If you feel confident and safe to do so, say something to the person who has shared the meme and let them know that sharing it is not OK. Ask them to remove it.

Reach out to the person in the meme. If a mean meme of someone has been shared and you know the person who is being targeted, reach out to them. Even a simple message can help, such as, ‘Hey are you OK? I saw what was posted, and I want you to know that I support you.’ This can make a big difference to how they’re feeling. Learn more on how to be an upstander.

Delete the meme. If you have received a mean meme of someone, delete it. This will help stop it from spreading further to other people and break the chain of disrespect. You can also tell the person who originally sent it to you to stop forwarding it on too.

Call in other support. If the drama is getting serious, talk to a trusted adult about it so they can help you work out what to do. Or you could get advice about what to do from a free, confidential counselling and support service like Kids Helpline (for young people up to 25). 

Get help for your classmate. It can be a shock to find out that someone is planning to share an intimate photo or video of you. It’s best to ask a trusted adult such as a teacher, school counsellor or Kids Helpline counsellor to help you let your classmate know what’s happening, so they can check they’re safe and supported.

These are some things your classmate should know:

  • The situation is not their fault, even if they agreed to the nude being taken in the first place, and there are ways to get help.
  • eSafety’s page Someone is threatening to share my nudes has lots of tips for dealing with the situation – including how to report to eSafety so we can help stop the photo being shared online.
  • They can always call or chat with someone at the free Kids Helpline (for 5 to 25 year-olds) or find another counselling and support service that’s right for them.

Reach out to the person who is threatening your classmate. If you know the person who is threatening to share the photo and you feel comfortable talking or messaging them about it, explain why it’s not OK and ask them to stop.

Delete your post and the video from your device. Delete what you posted or shared about the other person, so others don’t see it or spread it.

Apologise for what you said or did. Saying sorry shows you understand how the other person feels. Remember that if you have done or said something mean, it doesn’t make you a bad person. The important thing is to try not to make the same mistake again.

Learn from the experience. Remember to think first about the possible impact of what you say and do online and in person.

Ask for help. Talking with someone you trust like a friend or family member about what happened can make things easier, especially if you didn’t mean to hurt someone. You could also contact Kids Helpline (for 5 to 25 year-olds) or another confidential counselling or support service – they have people who are ready to listen and help. 

Last updated: 12/04/2024