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When Is Photo-Sharing Funny...or Creepy?
By: Jessica Cherok
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Is it okay to take a photo or video of someone and post it online without their permission? If your automatic answer is no, then it’s obvious you don’t like humor. If your automatic answer is yes, then you must be a heartless creeper.

See? It’s a slippery slope.

Maybe it’s a giant, hairy man on a beach. Or the woman at the coffee shop wearing head-to-toe leopard print. We’ve all seen these pictures — posted by someone on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit — and it’s pretty fair to assume the subject of the photo probably has no idea they’re being photographed, much less posted online.

But are there any rules that go along with when you’re invading someone’s privacy versus just having some fun?

Much like everything else in social media, not really. There are, however, some common sense suggestions:
  • Don’t take pictures of other people’s kids. Go ahead and try to imagine the argument you would give to the parent were they to confront you. Almost any explanation sounds creepy.
  • The more public the setting, the better off you are. There’s little to no expectation of privacy in public spaces, so you’re better off taking a picture in a park then inside a friend’s home.
  • If taking a picture of someone behaving like a jerk will make you look like an even bigger jerk, then maybe you should just skip the photo op. You have to tread lightly between humorous and mean-spirited.
With more and more people having the ability to take pictures with their mobile devices, and the new photo-taking stealthiness offered by Google Glass, it’s likely the dos and don’ts around the issue will become a hotter topic in the very near future. After all, you could find yourself a victim of this scenario. Who knows — maybe you already have been.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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