Attention Creeps: Everyone Can See the Photos You Like on Instagram. Yes, All of Them.

Shutterstock/Wil Fulton
Shutterstock/Wil Fulton

Something very serious was brought to my attention this morning.

Let's make two things clear: First, I don't consider myself to be a "power-Instagram user," (as evidenced by this piece), but I do have an account that I use every day -- so I apologize if this is "old news" to you. Second, I don't do anything weird on Instagram that would cause my friends/family/acquaintances (read: girlfriend) any distress. That being said, I had no clue that people can literally see everything I "heart" on Instagram, immediately after I like it.

But a simple click of the "Following" tab in the "Activity" page, will unleash a veritable flock of photos liked by your pals -- and don't be surprised if you see a gaggle of scantily clad, faux-tanned, possibly underaged girls glutting up your newly found newsfeed. It happened to me upon my first, uninitiated glance, just as it happened to this Anonymous tipster, writing for New York.

Now I knew some of my friends had questionable morals, but the sheer amount of males in my Instagram feed -- dudes with girlfriends, wives, children, house plants -- who were up late last night ogling and interacting with Insta-celebs they don't even know was a little jarring, and I have to assume they are in the dark about their digital paper trail.

Look, it's every red-blooded American's right to look at women (or men!) in various states of undress via the Internet (that's what it's there for, I think). But keep that itchy index finger tucked away and out of sight. As one of my pals with disputable scruples (and a wife) says, "Just because you've already ordered, doesn't mean you can't peruse the menu." While this is true, you don't have to take out a permanent marker and draw a heart next to the thing you maybe sort of wish you were eating, instead.

So. Now you are aware of this function, and many of you who have been impulsively giving that proverbial thumbs up to young ladies in filters of all shades and sizes, will continue to do so with zero regard to pre-existing relationships or future repercussions. But, as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo told Mark Zuckerberg in the Social Network, the internet is not written in pencil, it's written in permanent ink.

I'll leave you with the same advice bouncers at strip clubs have given many a leery-eyed gentleman, and the same koan of wisdom I give my unscrupulous friend who's fond of the menu analogy : it's OK to look, but don't touch. Especially when that touch leaves a footprint the rest of your friends can see the morning after. Think about that the next time you're hovering above that "like" button. And no, there's no way to turn it off.

Wil Fulton is a Staff Writer for Thrillist. He thinks fortune favors the bold. And also the rich. Follow him @wilfulton

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