At a fun dinner party last night, the topic of Facebook was raised. My friend, who must remain nameless, was recounting how she had been photographed in an unflattering pose during a recent holiday with close friends.
She is an avid horse rider, and after a long ride, she was resting on a log, with her legs relaxed, but slightly laid apart, and her hair, though clean, had helmet head, her friends decided to take some photos, as souvenirs.
All of this did not bother my friend in the least, but what did bother her, is that on returning home from her weekend away, she switched on her computer and decided to see how the rest of her world was faring on Facebook, only to find this less than elegant photo of her, and her friends declaring how fantastic a weekend they had had.
Though my friend has a very relaxed nature, she was taken aback that such a photo could so easily be published, without her approval, let alone without her acknowledgement.
Her name had been tagged, so she did have the option to untag herself, but that left her wondering how many photos there were of herself that she didn’t even know about. And also why a friend of her would publish photos that were not attractive.
This got me thinking about how people do easily publish photos of friends, or family, without their consent, and even if we do tag them, we feel we have ownership of those photos, so have every right to do whatever we please with them.
I’m definitely a culprit of this behaviour. I’m always taking snaps with my iPhone whenever I want a souvenir. I also use Facebook as a means of sharing my life’s activities with my friends, family and their extended friends. I’ve set up the privacy controls to limit strangers from accessing my page and photos, but, to be honest, I don’t really know if the privacy extends to those who I tag in my photos.
So, I decided, that I’d better check the correct etiquette when it comes to publishing photos and tagging on my social networks like Facebook, tumblr, Twitter, instagram, etc.
On doing research about Facebook, and how it differs to other social media, is that we consider Facebook profiles our portrayal of ourselves. We upload status’s and photos in the hope to define ourselves to others. We choose how much, or how little, we want to share. Some people like to share their social experiences, whereas, some don’t. Some, like me, have many friends in distant countries, and who like to publicise to their friends what’s going on, in a way to keep the geographical distance seem less distant. And the level of privacy varies amongst individuals just as much as any other factor with communication in our lives.
Having said that, it’s still considered bad form to tag friends in photos without their prior consent. If the circle of communication were closed, it might be more tolerable, but given that it’s impossible to contain the reach of anything on the internet, it is just considerate, thoughtful and yes, the right etiquette, to leave all parties untagged until they do so themselves.
I have just checked my daughters Facebook page, and it’s not surprising, but still disconcerting, to see how many of her friends (of which I have met about 25%), have tagged her in photos. Thankfully, I do know where she is at any given time (she’s 13 years old), so I’m never surprised by the parties, but I am surprised by the number of tags to other teenagers Facebook pages.
Tumblr and instagram posts seem to be driven by the account holder. Yes, comments can always be made that may upset you, but typically you are the one to instigate the conversation, so you have the control of what people see about yourself.
Twitter is more like a news feed, and also typically driven by you, the author. It does seem to be more about getting information about others, or just sharing snippets of information about yourself. Less weighty than it’s cousin Facebook.
Maybe it’s generational, and maybe there are variations to this issue that I need to consider. I’m sure that in a year of two, there will be media coverage of some famous person who’s privacy is invaded to such a degree that laws will be implemented to protect the rest of us.
Till then, keep discreet, stay considerate, and keep tuned in here. Above all, if your friend is in your photo, let them know, and let them tag themselves if they feel inclined.