Stop Posting Photos of Strangers on Social Media

Taking a photo of someone without their consent and posting it on the Internet is a shitty job. This is aggressive, inappropriate, and may even endanger the other person. In a world that made any sense, this would not require further explanation. This will be an accepted part of the social contract.

Instead, just last week the internet door was clouded by stories of the insufferable #PlaneBae saga, as well as one of Dear Prudi ‘s most troubling questions in recent memory ( no small feat).

In the first case, Twitter user Rosie Blair tweeted live for hours the flirting of two strangers sitting in front of her on the plane, along with photos, collecting hundreds of thousands of retweets (she later made a thirsty attempt to exploit her viral content). glory to work at Buzzfeed , which tells you everything you need to know). In the latter case, Dear Prudi, the letter writer, looked like she had been released after being caught in an unauthorized photo of an overweight colleague and “[sharing] this in an online community where we discuss obese people in our lives.”

The gist of these two incidents is “Let me get some nice RTs from this cute love story between strangers!” vs. “Let me fry someone with a bunch of my kooky friends on the net” is obviously a different matter entirely. But in both cases, the posting of the photos was a rude, bordering insult way of treating another person.

Again, this is self-explanatory. People do not tacitly sign a waiver, giving consent to the dissemination of information about their image, events and physical location on the Internet just because they dared to leave the house. Blurring their faces (or other identifying details) mitigates the harm a little, but even so, not quite! Blair blurred the couple’s faces in her Twitter conversation, and the woman featured in the story, who rightfully doesn’t want to get involved in any of this, refused to reveal her name and has since had to delete her social media profiles at an attempt to protect your privacy. The fact that you are not posting a photo or video with the intent of cruelty does not mean that their subject wants to be at the center of any kind of public comment, or that the results may not be devastating to them personally.

There are obvious exceptions to this rule. Police abuse their power , Nazis and white supremacists marching in the streets , anyone who otherwise seeks to harm others – these people no longer deserve respectful confidentiality and must be carefully documented to better ensure they face the consequences of their actions.

But strangers minding their own business should be left alone, to hell. Not everyone wants to be turned into content. And not everything should be.


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