Student ID Cards in Photos - What to do?

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of new accounts uploading photos with their student ID cards in full view. I’ve flagged a few but curators have said that they themselves can’t take down the photos. The photos then remain public which I think is a risk to personal security.

How should I deal with such observations? Should I mark them a casual so that the least amount of people see them or is there something else I should be doing? I’m curious to know how other iNatters react and treat these observations. Also, most student ID cards I’ve seen come from the same university, so could it have something to do with the teachers/assignments?

I’m interested to hear the forum’s thoughts.

If it seems to be a school project, then its possible they will be linked to a project, so perhaps try to contact the project’s creator if possible.

If it’s the same project, suggest to the teacher that each student pick out a unique identifier, a code name or symbol, and put a card with THAT in the pictures. That way, it’s clear that the photos were actually taken by that specific student, but there’s no personal safety risk.

Also, maybe comment on the observations themselves, or at least one observation per person. Point out that this isn’t particularly safe. Unfortunately, kids are growing up in an era where digital privacy is rapidly becoming a vanishing thing; Facebook requires a driver’s license now. I’m just glad INat is sensible.

You need to flag the photos that show them, stuff will hide them, plus all the advice before^

I think this is something for the teacher to solve, not us. Contact the teacher or project manager if possible. Don’t make the observations “casual” because that will mess up the student’s possible grades.


Sometimes people have accidentally posted identifying info or objects. In those cases staff has removed them.

This seems like a different issue, where the obsever is knowingly (I assume) posting personal information to a public site, although they may not be aware of the various risks involved. IMO it’s best to inform them that their personal information is now freely available online and reach out to the instructor if possible, or encourage the student to do so. You’d hope the instructor will at some point see comments on their students’ observations…

For what it’s worth, nearly every new account gets a welcome email and that email includes a link to the Teacher’s Guide:

And the Teacher’s Guide recommends not doing this:

We recommend that you not have your students include an identification card in their photos in order to prove they’re not plagiarized. iNaturalist observations are viewable by anyone on the internet, and identification cards and passports contain sensitive information which can be exploited for nefarious purposes. If you don’t feel you can trust your students to submit their own images, then iNaturalist may not be a good fit for them.

Also, see related conversation:


I checked the students’ profiles but none of them are currently in any projects, so I can’t contact an instructor. I have made sure to comment on these observations. I’ll try flagging them.

I don’t think flagging is necessary.

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So I should email instead?

Like I said above, I think its best to just add comments to the observations and inform the observers, it’s up to the observers to remove or crop the photo. But there isn’t a specific policy for this.

If you come across a photo where it seems like the observer has accidentally included something that is an urgent privacy concern, like a credit card or passport, please email help.


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