Found photos - not mine - find owner or forget about it?
September 5, 2012 10:33 AM   Subscribe

I've accidentally happened upon a cache of someone else's photos on photobucket. Do I reach out to them, forget about it, or delete the account?

I recently received an email about viewing the new privacy policy on Photobucket. I've been around on the web a while, and used various photo sharing sites, and honestly I have accounts scattered around and can't remember half of them. So when I saw this, I thought, huh, I wonder what I used photobucket for? I went to the site, when I couldn't log in, I did a password reset, and logged in. There are 250+ photos uploaded in 2009 by some high school girl. Her real name is on the account, and one quick google search found her FB profile. Normally I would just change the email to something random and forget about it. But - if someone found photos of mine that I thought I'd lost, from 3 years ago, I'd be all OMG AWESOME THANKS!

The question - do I delete the acct, forget about it, or try and contact this girl and offer to change the email on the acct to hers?

If it matters - the photos are totally benign - I just looked briefly at the main album page on logging in and they all seem to be of her and friends at various high school functions. They are set to private, so it's not like she could still access them. But I know some people would get really freaked out if a random stranger contacted them. Honestly, this internet crap just complicates everything. If it were a wallet full of photos, I'd just turn it in to the nearest police station, or try and contact the person on the ID.
posted by routergirl to Technology (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
can you change the email address on the account to be her address?
posted by grudgebgon at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2012

I say contact her. Some people would get really freaked out if a stranger knocked on their door to return that lost wallet of photos you mentioned, too. Your job is to make a good-faith effort to offer the person their lost property. It's on them to accept it or not.
posted by coupdefoudre at 10:41 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd do that, if I knew it. She is on twitter - I thought about sending her a quick tweet, but I'm really hesitant - I don't want to come off like some kind of stalker. I just realized her FB account doesn't even allow for messages to be sent to her by non friends, so honestly I'm not even sure how to contact her without getting into full on google mode, which seems really stalkerish.
posted by routergirl at 10:46 AM on September 5, 2012

What does it matter how you come off? You don't know this person, you're not stalking them and it's the right thing to do. If the only risk is how you're perceived, then that's literally nothing.

Then it's on her how she processes this information.
posted by inturnaround at 10:50 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Go ahead and tweet her. Explain what happened, and if she's freaked out for some reason, then she's freaked out. Her becoming uncomfortable wouldn't mean you're actually some internet psycho.
posted by cmoj at 10:51 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would probably reach out. If the girl is still high-school aged, then maybe I'd check if her parents are visible/discernible from her public-facing Facebook and contact them instead. Ditto Twitter, etc. I would also be careful to frame it, "Hey, it looks like you mistakenly created this account using my email address" or "Photobucket mistakenly reassigned your account to my email," and not, "I mistakenly signed into your old account."

With services like Facebook, Photobucket, etc., often people are trusting their information to the cloud and then forgetting about it. In my experience there seems to be a generational gap where younger people shrug about losing these photos, but that could just be a function of age and not how generations relate to technology. My point being, I wouldn't be surprised if someone her age doesn't have copies of these photos and doesn't especially care about getting them backā€”but still, reaching out is the kind thing to do.

All of that said, I wouldn't feel guilty about not working too hard at it. You're right that eventually it turns into a weird gesture. Life is filled with these decisions. Last night I was walking toward a group of three tourists taking photographs, alternating between who was snapping and who was posing, and I was going to offer to snap all three together but they finished and began walking away before I got close. Twenty seconds earlier and I think it would have been a nice gesture, but I wasn't going to chase them down. Ditto here.
posted by cribcage at 10:52 AM on September 5, 2012

If she's on Twitter, an @reply should reach her. Seems like that's a quick easy way to contact her without being stalkery.
posted by straw at 10:53 AM on September 5, 2012

I just sent her a @reply tweet about it. You're all right, it shouldn't matter how I come off. Clearly there needs to be an internet lost and found organization. Although I reckon most people would be happy to lose things on the internet. Ha.

I got into it with a coworker/friend over this, and he's like, "People suck, don't waste your time, she won't care." And I was like, "Yeah, but if I don't waste my time, isn't that just me being a person who sucks? What if these do matter?"
posted by routergirl at 10:59 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

You are over thinking this.

Dear Girl, Photobucket sent me a notice about their new privacy policy. When I clicked through and logged in, I discovered that the pictures were yours. ( Your name is on the account). I don't know how my email address got associated with your account. If you want to give me an email address I'll change it on the account and you can have your pictures back. Otherwise I'll probably just delete the account if I don't hear back from you.
posted by COD at 11:00 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Dude, you are totally over-thinking this. Reach out and just be polite and to the point.
posted by phaedon at 11:06 AM on September 5, 2012

Yeah, you won't come off as a stalker if you're not stalking her - a tweet or fb message saying "Hey, I found your stuff, do you want it" is just nice-person behavior.
posted by rtha at 11:16 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I found an iPod in the local park recently. Based on the email account and photos on the iPod, I found the girl on Facebook. (email didn't seem to be current/in use). She was thrilled to have her iPod back. I prefaced message with "sorry if this is weird..." etc but it was no problem.
posted by pink_gorilla at 9:21 PM on September 5, 2012

Please update us when/if you hear back from her. Thanks!
posted by deborah at 10:48 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think she saw my reply on Twitter - she may have it set to only show her replies from people she's following. Facebook won't allow me to send her a message without friending her. She has a MySpace, but I would have to set up an account to send her a message there. She uses a distinct nickname for her Facebook, Twitter, etc, so I took a shot and emailed that nickname at gmail just to ask if it was her. Beyond that I think I'm out of options. I've never seen someone so ALL OVER the internet and so hard to reach.
posted by routergirl at 7:13 AM on September 11, 2012

« Older Help a kid learn Spanish when you don't know...   |   They'd offer you the job if you didn't look like... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.