RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

What happened to privacy?

“Can you send me that picture?” It’s something we’re asked after coming home from a family trip or a vacation at Disney World. As social creatures, we are always sharing photos via the internet of us having really awesome adventures. However, most of the time, we are not alone in those pictures. We take photos with our friends, family, and some old person that just wandered into the background. It wouldn’t be a problem if we just kept the photos for ourselves and occasionally showed them to visiting friends and family. But in today’s digital age, our photographed memories are plastered all over social media for the entire world to see. I might sound really dramatic, but why is that a problem?

I’ll tell you. Maybe someone doesn’t want their photo on the internet, exposing them to be judged by some strangers on the internet who can then pass it on to their friends, and their friends, and on, and on, and on. And what about when those photos are used for advertisements or other forms of promotions. Some people might not really be comfortable with having their face used to sell the latest fancy product, especially if they weren’t asked for permission.

I have a professor who asks that their lectures not be recorded, out of fear that they will be taken out of context, and end up on Fox News. That’s a big problem, especially if people have to fear that their actions, that in context might be innocent, will be placed before a public audience to scrutinize. With all of this digital technology making it harder to live private lives (Google Glass, for one example) we should remember to be decent humans and give our fellow people the respect and privacy that they deserve.


  1. Kat

    I have to agree with you that sharing is a much bigger problem than people seem to realize. There’s always the issue of sharing something that you think is harmless, but then it does harm someone. There are the issues of consent and utilizing that when using a picture or article about someone else. However, you’re only looking at one side of things. Yes, there are all of these negatives of sharing, but that doesn’t mean that sharing is all bad. Taking into consideration things that would be beneficial when shared, and the contribution of knowledge to a particular subject, I think that sharing does have some good sides. Perhaps we should be focusing more on the minute details… particularly consent.

    • Iyana

      I can understand why your teacher might make such rules, I would too if I was in that position. Its crazy to me how we technology has a affected us so much that its an automatic now almost. But I can see some of the cyber dangers that can arise with lots of sharing.

  2. Iyana

    I completely agree with you. In this day and age someone can use your facebook photo for an advertisement that was not approved by you and honestly its a scary thought. If I was your professor then I might make the same type of rules so that I don’t loose my job or worse be judged by the entire country. Often videos go “viral” now more frequently.

  3. Iyana

    Yes sharing and really “stealing” peoples photos is way common thing than not now a days. Its crazy to me what a change that social media has had on our lives. But I can understand why your teacher made those rules because I might do something similar myself just to protect myself from a possible misinterpretation.

  4. J_simpson5

    I do wish that you included more about metadata but I wanted to respond to this post because of the conversation that we had in class about photo privacy and about my own personal experience as well. I spoke briefly of it in class, but I work at a kid’s park that is active on Yelp, and I have seen pictures of myself that have shown up on yelp. Of course, whoever posted it doesn’t have the intent of showing me off, but I will happen to be in the background of many. I’m not personally offended by it or anything, but what if I didn’t want people to know I was working there? If anything looks reviews of the park, they will automatically know that I am an employee there, what my job position is, what time of the day work, and maybe even what days that I work since the dates are visible on the reviews. It’s kind of creepy to think about how much a stranger could really get out of a public picture that I did not authorize to have up. Then comes the other question: what can I really do about it? I feel as if I really tried and had a bunch of lawyers and whatnot I could potentially get the picture taken down, but realistically that will not happen or even be financially possible. In my reality at least, there is not much I can physically do about having a picture of me put up unauthorized and that is pretty frightening. Since there are no strict laws (in California at least) that prohibit us from posting unauthorized pictures of people, I feel like it comes down to the morals of the person taking the picture. Do they have respect or common courtesy of not posting a photo that they don’t think someone else will like? Unfortunately, we cannot control the actions of other people and this is one of the things that we have to deal with now living in such a digital world.

    • J_simpson5

      ^^ Ignore my comment about metadata being included!! I got confused with another post, sorry!

  5. c_castellanos

    Yes I agree with you that people share things carelessly not taking into account the full implications to their posts. I also see it as a huge issue if something is being posted without the person’s permission. Whether the person is being portrayed in a positive or humiliating light it could affect their personal lives and posts should have permission from the source in order to share it; or the person should have expressed themselves as willing to be publicized like celebrities. Not to say that these people do not deserve privacy to their content but their post are perceived to be more publicity rather than personal so someone reposting in my opinion would only be a continuation of the initial post. No harm in that. Not only for celebrities in that case, that could be said for anyone. Unless your profile is private the ability to repost something that you have posted is fair game.

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