Hello, @relaxocat here! Those of us who have been on IG for awhile have enjoyed the global and local friends we’ve all made through the use and search capability when applying hashtags. But along with the tens of millions of new users, come abusers who are using your photos to post spam, steal, and attempt at profiting by using our photos.

Someone recently asked me about the origin of the tag, ThisIsChicago, which some Chicagoans are using. There is also a user account with the same name. Click on their link and you’ll see that all of the photos with the tag are being fed onto the advertising linked blog-site. This means that whomever owns this site gets some amount of revenue based on visits. As well the owner remains anonymous, does not respond to comments, does not watermark “featured” photos, and if you click on any of the photos on the blog-site, you are forwarded to a website called Instush which allows you to browse IG photos on the web. This IG account is one of many now using your photos for potential revenue by using the API to use the hashtag feed. If you wish to browse IG, Instagram has a web option, I’d suggest using that ( USWRNAME). Other legit sites for viewing, liking, following, etc are @Statigram, @Webstagram, and @ink361. Visit their feeds on IG to learn more.

My point? If you’re interested in gaining exposure by using hashtags, that’s great, but you should be aware of where your photos are being used and how. If you’re ok with someone potentially gaining money by using your photos and without your knowledge or permission, carry on. This is frankly, a risk we all take by posting anything on most social media sites unless we keep our accounts private. Perhaps this is a fair deal to you in exchange for giving you exposure. If not, do a little research, or watermark your photos.

Here at IGers Chicago, featured photos are watermarked or reposted by using @statigram’s repost feature from their website. My goal is to foster a real community by introducing you all to each other through your photos and by instameets. Featured photos appear watermarked on our Facebook, Twitter, & Tumblr accounts - none of which gain any revenue whatsoever.

Here’s a shortlist of communities & tags belonging to groups and people who are known (I literally know the people who run these accounts) to IGers Chicago. These groups all watermark featured photos:

  • @igers, #igers - the general account for all the global communities (most cities around the world have an IGers community);
  • @chitecture, #chitecture - for Chicago architecture;
  • @chihood, #chihood - for Chicago neighborhoods;
  • @nbcchicago, #chicagogram - NBC is where I started in social media and my former online manager runs this account - approved by Instagram for posting the hashtagged photos to the NBC Chicago website;
  • @chitoday, #chitoday - Daily challenges
  • @chicagotribune - #trib[month] Monthly themes. This month’s hashtag is #tribdecember

Of course there are many more, like @suntimes, @chicagoreader, @timeoutchicago, etc. If you have IG friends who might be jeopardizing their photos, please direct them to this post.

#igers #igerschicago #chicagogram #chihood #chitecture #chitoday #jj #statigram #websatgram #ink361 #tribdec #chitodaydec #instagram312 #chitribinstagram #chicagonow

Here’s the group photo taken by @yalinbuyukdora who was nice enough to bring a tripod and used his timer so we could all be in this shot! Thanks for always thinking of the group, Yalin!

@elbow_macaroni has the spotlight, I’m (@relaxocat) to Elliott’s right, @yalinbuyukdora behind me, and @tassonephoto, who who led us through the pedways, is behind Yalin. So many old & new friends too! If you would like to tag yourself, please leave a comment.

#igc_reposts #igerschicago #igers #jj #instameetchicago #instameet #chicago #chitoday #chitecture #chihood #thepublicimage #instagram312 #tribdecember #chicagogram