Before you go out and click, more importantly, before you go out and decide to post, make sure you know what you are clicking and who you are posting and who is posting you because not everyone is fond of seeing themselves ‘appear’ on social media without his/her permission. Not everyone is fond of his/her privacy being hacked, and not everyone is fond of seeing his/herself half naked on Google Map Street View. In the words of Sonia Livingstone, “In our everyday engagement with friends and family, with the community, the political system, the nation and beyond, we draw upon, and we increasingly rely upon, a never-ending flood of images, ideas and information”.
Since re rely upon these images, ideas and information, it evokes a very complicated issue – an issue we are having in our society today with media and how we use them. As I explore this issue, we can form our own diagnosis, we can form our own consequences, and we can form our own resolutions.
A media-related problem I find interesting is when other people post your picture on social media without your permission. This is interesting for me because I don’t like it. In fact, I am offended by it. Often times you go to an event and people will come up to you and take your picture and then before you know it, someone is telling you about yourself being on social media. This actually happened to me. I was recently at a wedding and a lady came to my table and just started taking everybody’s picture.
It was about six of us at the table and I inquired if the others knew this lady. Everyone seemed stunned because they didn’t know her. We objected that we didn’t want our pictures to be taken.
Further, I told her please don’t put my picture up on her social media. What was interesting also, was that she was walking around to other people’s table doing the same thing. I saw where they objected too. This shows that this problem would be interested for others too because no one wants to be infringed upon. If someone doesn’t use Facebook, for example, you would disapprove to have someone else put your picture on it. The problem I am trying to solve is to make people be more conscious of their actions. Everything is not for everyone. People are entitled to their privacy and when it is being infringed upon it poses a threat to them.
We need to mobilize people and sensitize them to this fact – that permission should always be sought before they go ahead and take pictures. Even the FBI and the Feds know this despite the fact that often times they too cross this boundary and ‘take’ our information without permission. Some people’s life is dependent upon this. Nevertheless, if I had to choose between who (that is, the FBI or Internet thieves/hackers) should take my information without my permission, I would have no choice but the former. No wonder, you leave to go somewhere for two days and the next thing you know your house is broken into because all your whereabouts are on social media. Therefore, the problem needs solving because this practice needs to end.
There are many people who are having this problem (people not being conscious of their actions). The pictures that were taken of me were not posted on social media because I made it clear that I didn’t want them on it. In fact, I objected to having my pictures taken any at all. However, there are other people who are having this same problem as I am. Mothers, especially, are concerned that their kid’s pictures will end up on social media without their (the mother’s) consent. This has been the case with many other people also. The most recent evidence comes from mothers who are feeling threatened and helpless as a result of such actions. They are worried about the invasion on their children’s innocence. An article came out on Fox8.com, where parents are worried about “digital kidnapping.” Attorney David Smith from the Smith Ammons law firm said that “these people are posting anonymously, not using real names. Finding them to get the right person – that’s the problem. So even if they are committing a true crime, you are kind of stuck”.
The mother in the article went on to say that she didn’t give her permission to use any of her son’s pictures. Moreover, she asked for them to be taken down. She expressed concerns about pictures that showed up on Facebook and she didn’t want them on it. She said, “how can I get this taken down, because who’s to say this won’t go any further?” Attorney David Smith continues that “they are using the image when they do not have the permission to do so”. Furthermore, when your photos are posted on social media you have no control over how your pictures are used as portrayals. For example, if the person posts to an unscrupulous website, or you are seen in pictures with other questionable people. In these cases, your privacy is not guaranteed and you have no control over other people’s behavior (or reputation) on that social media page who is a friend of the person (and not a friend of you), stealing your photos.
According to the article, The Guardian, “the use of a photo or video posted online without the permission of the creator could be a breach of copyright” (theguardian.com). Another journal article that explores this problem is ‘The Googlization of Us’ by Vaidhyanathan. One of the points he touched on is that “… for the vast majority of users, the fate of their personal data remains a mystery”. While this statement has to do specifically with the collection of our data about our interests when we register on line for whatever service, it can still be applied to all our other personal information, such as pictures that are posted on Facebook and other social media. “The rise of the Internet provided an unprecedented global platform on which digitally based media content could be distributed and consumed.
The Internet made it easier to distribute media content, to share it, and to find new media content of all sorts”. This is highlighting the point that when our information, data and images leave us they have the potential to be distributed and shared. This is the problem – sharing – we are being ‘shared’ with other people who we didn’t consent to. “The media surround us. Our everyday lives are saturated by the Internet …”. We are not oblivious to this fact. Not everyone – in fact, most people don’t practice safety and responsibility when they use the media. As a result, we have to be cautious of what we allow to get saturated on the Internet. “Most of all, sociology suggests that, if we want to understand the media and their impact on our society, we must consider the relationships (both micro and macro) between media and the social world”. So, what is this relationship? Does everyone understand this relationship? These questions cannot be answered until media audiences recognize the impact media have on our society.
As I read the article, ‘The Googlization of Us’ by the scholar Vaidhyanathan I am beginning to unearth all of the pieces of the puzzle when it comes to our choice, our privacy, and our surveillance. Those who use social media don’t have any choice over how they disseminate content on the Internet. “Economist Richard Thaler and law professor Cass Sunstein describe a concept they call “choice architecture”. The basic idea of this concept is that “the choices that are offered to us profoundly influence the decisions we make”. Google understands this concept of choice architecture and so one thing it does is use its default settings to track what we do. What’s of greater concern is that it retains that data. So, in the end, do you know what will happen to your data years after you put them on the Internet? Are you sure someone somewhere is not studying ways in which they can manipulate that data especially if that someone is a good-for-nothing?
Moreover, there seems to be no such thing as ‘privacy’ in this technological globalized world. Gone are those days. If you have a Facebook account, it’s as if you are now technologically ‘imprisoned.’ This is what happened in 2007 with Facebook according to Vaidhyanathan. With minimal warning, Facebook instituted what it called its Beacon program, which posted notes about users’ Web purchases in the personal news feeds on Facebook profiles. So, if a user had purchased a gift for a friend on one of the Web commerce sites that were partners in the program, the purchase would be broadcast to all of that person’s Facebook associates – most likely including the intended recipient of the gift … Within days, more than fifty thousand Facebook users signed up for a special Facebook group protesting the Beacon service and Facebook’s decision to deny users the chance to opt out of it.
So, do you see the problem with privacy here? Do you realize that when other people post your pictures on Facebook (or any other social media), you become googlized? Once your photos go on, even if they are deleted afterward, do you really think they are ‘deleted?’ It is in light of the foregoing why parents and other technology conscious (or unconscious) people don’t want their pictures (or their children’s) posted, especially without their permission. The evidence illuminates more when we talk about universal surveillance. Woud you want to be in your backyard on a sunny day, cooling out in your bikini with your children and when you go on Google Map Street View you see yourself and your children staring right back at you? Of course not because that is everyone’s worse nightmare. The link below provides details of the discomfort and anger that is expressed against this issue.
My findings confirm previous findings (that it is a problem to post people’s pictures on line without their permission) as well as reveal something new (the universalization of surveillance), which support that it is never a happy moment for anyone to have their privacy harassed, interrogated, or held in captivity. No matter how we look at it, our privacy is in danger. It’s as if our life no longer belongs to us. We can be identified and when that happens we are under constant surveillance. It’s as if we are prisoners in our own existence. As I have discussed previously, can you imagine your pictures ending up on a website in Afghanistan or with members of ISIS? It’s hard to fathom sometimes. This reiterates what my thoughts about social media are in the first place. I know social media has its positives and negatives, but most times you have to be very cautious so the positives are not displaced.
In conclusion, at this juncture, it appears as if the word ‘privacy’ has become redundant, but I still maintain that as far as it is possible, people should be able to exercise some autonomy over their privacy. As we continue to talk about privacy I know it is going to be a challenge because privacy seems relative these days. In the end, we need a microscope to be put on this problem because that is the only way people are going to ‘see’ that it is a problem that they need to stop. We want our permission to be sought before we are ended up on social media. We don’t want our privacy to be hacked or hijacked, and we certainly don’t want to end up half naked on Google Map Street View. Instead, we want the problem to go away because there are consequences if and when it doesn’t. Is there a resolution? I think there is. The resolution lies in all of us – all of us as audiences, and as citizens of our society.