The Jungle is a column that uses social media to explore the fault lines in adult relationships.
Every few days, I get the inevitable Facebook notification and have to e-mail or message people – acquaintances, close pals, colleagues, my sweet cousin – and ask them to take down photos they’ve posted of me. As a writer, a lot of my personal life already exists online, and casual shots of me with friends and family crosses a line that I have to draw somewhere. Am I being too sensitive, or is it okay to share photos of other people online without their permission?
@amandafantastic tweeted, “I usually ask. Although, I’ve posted pictures of my grandparents without asking, because they don’t understand the Internet.” She added, “I wouldn’t post other people’s grandparents” and “I always assume kids stay off the Net unless the parents specifically agree.”
@elvedin tweeted, “The more public a person’s life/job is, the more one should err on the side of caution. Same with the less you know a person.” He wouldn’t ask a private-citizen kind of friend permission to post a photo of them online, “but I’d probably leave the tagging/identification to them.”
Another perspective is to try not to care. “In the end you’re at the mercy of exposure,” tweeted @AlexJRado. “In the end u have no choice.”
@jemette put it bluntly: “I value privacy … you should [get] permission first.”
“I always ask if I don’t already know someone’s stance,” @_CJWalker tweeted.
“If it’s your friend I think you should ask,” tweeted @KusunokiMusashi. “What if the pic is unflattering and the friend sees it later on Facebook and gets pissed?”
I’m often surprised by the common assumption that posting photos of other people is acceptable online behaviour. Just because something happens all the time doesn’t make it right. It’s one thing to keep photos of friends online in private albums behind passwords; it’s another to make someone else’s image – especially in a private context – too easily available to your extended (and unpredictable) network of followers and Facebook friends. Even if I weren’t a writer who needs to be in control of my online presence, I wouldn’t appreciate someone else making the decision for me about where and how I appear. So, post your own pictures as much as you want, but leave your friends out of it.
Weigh in on the next Jungle debate. Follow Kate Carraway on Twitter: @KateCarraway