Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My mother-in-law has recently started a Facebook account. There are three of us sisters-in-law and we all find this a great way for her to keep up with the grandkids. However, she shares every single photo we post. An aunt, who is widowed, has been speaking to men over Facebook and one of these men shared a photo of my daughter to his Facebook friends! This was truly alarming. I immediately asked this person (whom I’ve never met) to take the photo down. After a day I was still so shaken that I deleted my account. My mother-in-law was heartbroken. Facebook photo-sharing is tricky with relatives. There is no specific setting to not allow people to share photos (you can only restrict an audience). I don’t want to restrict family members from photos. I just don’t want them shared. Until Facebook develops this feature, how do I respectfully explain to my mother-in-law I don’t want her sharing so many pictures, because others in her circle seem to think that by her sharing, they are welcome to do that as well? Outside of an honest conversation with my mother-in-law, is it appropriate to make a disclaimer in the description of the photo (or status) to ask for my permission before sharing?

Media Mom

DEAR MOM: Until Facebook gives people a way to lock down their own photos, you can try to at least control who sees them by customizing your settings, restricting who sees your photos to only “friends” or a family group. This means that even if your mother-in-law (or aunt) shares a photo, it won’t actually be seen by anyone outside your designated circle. You should also use the FB tools for tagging, so you will be notified whenever your child is tagged.

However, it is important to remember that anyone can take a screenshot of a photo and share it freely.

Explain to your mother-in-law why social media sharing is not like running into a friend and showing them a cute picture of the grandkids. Understand that this is a typical rookie mistake. It is basic FB etiquette to always ask permission to share someone else’s material.

If you decide to hop back on Facebook, whenever you post a photo you don’t want shared, definitely post a request along with the photo: “Please don’t share this or any other photo without permission.”

I often cringe when I see photos and videos of young children on social media, knowing where they could end up.

This episode is a reminder that the only real control resides with you.

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DEAR AMY: I have received a gift with a note, which reads, “I’m passing items on to family and friends this Christmas, and thought you might enjoy this lovely book, originally given to me by a dear pal many years ago.” Is this something new that I have missed out on? Will it be all right for me to “re-gift” someone with the ugly gravy boat I received as a wedding present 40 years ago? The original donor passed away long ago.

Just Wondering

DEAR JUST WONDERING: The person who re-gifted this book to you went to the trouble of choosing, wrapping and (perhaps) shipping it to you, along with a note. The giver was also transparent about the origin of the gift.

Some (mainly older) people start winnowing their possessions by passing things along to others. Sometimes this is because they have run out of ideas or resources, and yet still want to celebrate the holiday. You can see this as “re-gifting” — or as simply “giving.” The spirit you bring to the transaction will dictate how it goes for you.

I think it’s a great idea to pass along your gravy boat. The only thing you need to do is to find a recipient who might like it — and who is also kinder and more tolerant than you are.

DEAR AMY: “Jaded” wondered why his executive recruiter was so offended when he tried to negotiate his salary for a new position. I’ve worked in executive search, staffing and HR for many years. I would recommend he reach out to the manager after the discussion with the recruiter. Why? Sometimes recruiters and managers aren’t always in sync with regard to realistic salary expectations. Contacting the manager directly wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Experienced

DEAR EXPERIENCED: Thank you. I agreed with “Jaded” that he should not be rebuffed for negotiating. Thank you for offering an additional suggestion.