Finally getting caught up to this. All I can say is.....Some days a one-room shack in the middle of nowhere with no running water or electricity sounds pretty appealing. Maybe move to Montana and be a dental floss farmer (and anyone who gets the Frank Zappa song reference is probably whacked out enough to join me...).
Guest post by Jenelle Conner
Editor’s update, 8:08 pm ET, May 1, 2013: The following post was edited on May 1, 2013, to redact the names of the websites and related Facebook Pages involved. Since the identities of the particular parties involved in the incident described below are less important than the issues raised, we decided not to subject them to further scrutiny.
We have made minor edits to the post as indicated below that do not change its integrity, including blurring the faces of the kids involved. We have redacted the Page name(s) from any comments mentioning them, and will continue to monitor comments to do so.
Note that the information relayed below is based on “Susan’s” conversations with the Facebook Page(s) involved, via Facebook’s messaging feature, and shared with her continued approval. All images have been used with “Susan’s” permission. In her words, “…I appreciate the fact that you all are doing this to get it out there to show people how easily photo[s] can be taken without your permission.” ~SB
I am a social media advocate. It’s where I work. I love the collaborative energy, thoughts and community.
But I hate the ugly side of social media sharing; especially when kids are involved.
On April 7 my Facebook friend Susan (name changed) uploaded this photo (image used with permission from “Susan”):
By April 21, it had been [updated] turned into this photo meme:
What was posted as a “friends only” image was altered into a very public meme, where her kids and the neighbor’s kids (all
under 13 years old and under; updated) became branded as “What is wrong with today’s kids?”
So, how did it all happen?
The image went viral.
After two days of searching, we believe the process went something like this:
1) Susan’s Facebook friend saw the image on Susan’s Facebook page and commented, “Can I share this?? Too funny!!!”
2) Susan replied, “I don’t mind.” Susan’s friend then shared it to her personal Facebook page with the privacy setting “friends only.”
3) Without asking or anyone else knowing, Susan’s friend’s boyfriend saw the picture, thought it was funny, uploaded it to Imgur, and posted it to Reddit. No harm intended.
4) Before it was removed last
Wednesday Tuesday, April 24 [updated], the image on Imgur received 966,589 views in a 2-week period.
The crazy part? Susan didn’t even know the image had gone viral until she saw another Facebook friend shared the meme on April 22. Susan then responded,
“That’s a picture of my kids and neighbors. Not sure how they got it. This was the 1st day that my kids [met] the new neighbors. They had been outside playing with them all day and they decided they wanted to play a multiplayer game and went inside to get their tablets. I said nope it’s to [sic] nice outside get back out there and enjoy it. So I went back to my yard work and found them on the porch.”
After she saw the meme, Susan started reporting the image and private messaging pages on Facebook with a request that they take down the image and/or meme. She explained that the kids were minors and the photo was used without her knowledge.
sites the Facebook Pages she contacted [updated for clarity, 11:18 pm ET, May 1] have since removed the offending photo; though not without objecting rather profusely. But before they did, between these two pages the meme was shared more than 4,000 times, and had received more than 2,300 likes.
All of that doesn’t make me as frustrated as one of the the messages Susan received when she asked them to remove the image.
Here are some screen captures from the conversation with [name redacted] (this conversation was before we traced the original image back to Reddit/Imgur).
First, they sent her a pre-formatted response about how to untag herself from the photo.
Upon realizing that wasn’t what she was asking, they responded:
“Sorry [Susan], that’s a copy/paste we reply daily for that automated Facebook query that was sent. We actually received this picture twice via email and thought we would post it to our facebook page. We’ve seen it before on the internet in different languages. How old is it and when was it posted? It’s definitely circulating.”
“The photo was just taken on the 7th of this month. I am speaking with an attorney to see who all [h]as this photo posted because you all didn’t actually share it through another site. So if you could give me a direct link to where you got it would help.”
Then, [name redacted] said this:
“That is shocking that it’s less than 30 days old. That means they are circulating via email and internet blogs at lightening [sic] speed. Is your profile public? There is no way any attorney will be able to give you any recourse. This is one of the problems with Facebook. I’ll try and locate the different websites I’ve seen them on. I’ll get back to you asap.”
Then, they acted like they were going to help:
“We received it from a reader with the picture inserted in the email. There was no link. It was forwarded to them as well. I can request where they received it if you like but I don’t think that will go anywhere. The trails sometimes go on hundreds if not thousands of emails back. I can’t find the other website I’ve seen it on but I believe it was a Slavic language, however the picture was different but same concept. Sorry about this [Susan]. I’m sure you’re a great Mom!”
Finally, after a few back-and-forth comments, Susan came back to her original request that they remove the image (without getting a lawyer involved):
“Well you I ask you kindly to remove it so we [h]ave one less [page] to get involved with. I am trying to go about asking people to remove it and the one[s] that [don't] are the ones that will be contacted further.”
[Name redacted] responded:
“We can appreciate the request [Susan], and you may proceed as you wish, but we will not be removing the image. Unfortunately, the photo has been dramatically and digitally altered, distributed, and now widely available on the public domain. Due to the nature of its presentation and direction, fair use for educational purposes also applies. If we wanted to, we could also post this image on our website as could any website without any recourse. This is the nature of digital media. Sorry.”
I am not a lawyer, but I feel the claims made in this final response by [name redacted] were grossly inaccurate and an attempt to scare Susan from trying to pursue additional action. And, frankly, I am disappointed in the site.
Social media by definition is a space where people share ideas and information.
In my opinion, this is what makes social media so beautiful. But what happens when “sharing” infringes on the privacy rights of others? Don’t we as social media professionals, especially a Page with more than 34,000 likes, have an obligation to make sure that we are utilizing images from a reputable source?
And, upon receiving information that a photo was used incorrectly, don’t we have an obligation to research and remove the photo if someone was indeed valid in their request?
When I asked Susan what she thought would happen when she originally told her friend she could share the image she said, “I figured some of her friends would see it, and that would be the end of it. Had I known it would get in the wrong hands, I would not have agreed to let anyone share it. I can just hope that my oldest won’t be reading any post anywhere of people calling him fat.”
While this image has been removed from Imgur and Reddit, it still remains widely available online. We’ve seen it translated and posted in different languages and, now that it’s out there, it’s never coming back. I know I’ll be thinking twice before I hit the “share” button in the future.
Our KimberMedia team weighed-in on this topic the other night. Click here to see our 10 minute KimberMedia WarRoom Google+ Hangout discussion.
Disclaimer: The assertions and opinions contained in this blog post are solely those of the author. Waxing UnLyrical and its staff and agents have not verified the truth of any statement contained therein and do not vouch for their authenticity.
Jenelle Conner works as a social media account manager for KimberMedia. She just launched her own marketing business in the sunny Florida panhandle (website coming soon), and she’s on track to have her Yoga teaching certification in 2014. Multitasking, organization, and the small details make Jenelle’s world go round.
This is a well done post that gets to a very fundamental debate in the data privacy community on both sides of the Atlantic which is sometimes referred to as the "right to be forgotten". Google it and you will find a ton of debate by some of the most intellectual people you will ever know.
The bottom line is that the EU is interested in creating the ability of the "internets" to give individual citizens the right to ask that information / photos / data be removed and taken down.
The USA, however, (in broad terms) says that this is 1) impossible to do from a technical perspective (as expressed in this post) and 2) could be very dangerous from a freedom of speech and democracy perspective. Think, for example, if the Nazi's had stored all their data on the internet and had the right to be forgotten? That would not work.
A leading thinker is the Chief Privacy Officer for Google EU. Here is a post he did about this recently > http://peterfleischer.blogspot.com/2011/03/foggy-thinking-about-right-to-oblivion.html
Founder #PrivChat (every Tuesday Noon ET)
O.M.G. What a day. If you've already been reading/sharing this, please read the updates to the post and comments. I know this is an issue folks are passionate about - and the dialog has been incredible - but we do need to keep it focused on the issues and not any of the parties at hand.
Hi all, if you are new (or returning) to this post, please note the update at 8:08 pm ET tonight (May 1). The issues of privacy expectations online, sharing in the social realm, etc., that @jenelleconner raises in her post are important ones, but we also want to keep the dialog focused on the issues and not the parties involved. As you can see, we have redacted mentions of the site/Page in the post, and have done so where necessary in the comments as well.
The dialog we are collectively engaging in is, I think, critical to the advancement of communication via social media platforms. But it is also necessary to do so - in my opinion - in a civil and respectful way. So we'll continue to monitor comments, and any mentions of any of the sites, or any kind of personal attacks will be moderated, edited and/or removed accordingly. Thank you in advance for respecting everyone's right to their - and your - opinion, and behaving accordingly!
I can't say I entirely agree with you Jenelle. If a parent uploaded some pictures of kids playing in a playground and Susan's kids happen to be in the picture texting, would that give her the ok to notify the parent to remove the picture. I don't think so. I realize there is a fine line, but I really don't fault this website for reposting a picture that was already posted everywhere else. If you put your pictures on the internet, you have to assume there is at some point the possibility that they could be copied or misused. It's a risk we all must accept. In this case, the only one who could really claim the copyright is facebook. Most people are not aware of this but facebook owns the pictures once you upload them and they can do with them as they wish "you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook" Curious also as to why you reposted the picture if it was Susan's intention to get rid of it?
Are we forgetting that we are posting these under age kids pictures online - and for this article, you REPOSTED them again to draw even more attention to them. Funny enough you changed the poor mother's name " to protect her identity: yet all the kids pictures are all plain to see and even zoomed in - so now we are giving them even more bad press..To prove your facts as iresponsable with an article like this, and then posting their picture again is the most ironic, twisted thing I have seen..This whole thing made me laugh out loud, and feel sorry for people on every level of this story
Precisely why my wife and I made the choice to never publish pictures of our children on the internet. There, problem solved.
No way is this fair use. This is an infringement on your rights to control the use of 1. Your copyrighted photo and 2. Your children's images. You never signed any releases allowing these other entities to use or alter this copyrighted material to promote their own businesses, websites or ideologies. This is a CLEAR AND BLATANT VIOLATION. Report every single Facebook site and page to Facebook for intellectual property rights infringement. And threaten every other website with a civil suit. They know what they are doing. That is why they tried to use the "fair use" excuse. Using your intellectual property without your consent or proper licensing with the purpose of marketing their products means they are cutting you out of any profits they make from the advertising they created with your property. Illegal. Period.
Before I go into my honest feelings let me say I do feel for this mom. with that said I tell all of my not-so-social friends as well as clients that if they dont want it to be spread throughout the internet then dont post it. I can't say that it's this way for this exact situation but I personally see soooo many people complain about privacy, sharing etc... until they enter little Johnny in that contest and need the most likes/ shares to win.
Additionally, think about how celebs feel when the same complainers share pictures and stories that they didnt approve.... Do they realize they're doing the same thing?!
Bottom line, think before you post and know your privacy settings and how to use them properly and if you don't want the world to see it only share it with those that you do. Control your content so others dont and 9 times out of 10 you wont run into these situations.
This actually made me sick to my stomach, then quite angry. No recourse. We're using it, without your permission, and there's NOTHING you can do about it,....sorry.
Yeah, sorry. Fo' what?
The Cheeky Daddy
This photo was posted on wondermoms facebook page on April 18th. I think it is very comparable to the one in this blog. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=596685447009051&set=a.188512814492985.49350.122659941078273&type=1&theater
If you go to failblog.org you will see how many images of things people post of Facebook get made fun of there. If it was a crime that site and all the sister sites it has would be taken down. While I guess I can see why the mom is upset (even though it's not really a big deal), she would have to realize that anything she chooses to share online can be taken without her knowledge and things can happen to it. I mean Facebook owns the image now anyway and they can sell it or do whatever they want with it. This really is something that could have been handled differently by her just laughing it off. It's not an offensive picture, it's funny and something I see so many kids do these days (mine included).
While I'm capable of mustering up a bit of sympathy for the mom, it's only a bit. I know the copyright laws - I'm from higher education and became quite familiar with it. What happened was wrong and copyright violation. On the other hand, get real - if I don't want something spread around, the last place in the world I'm gonna put it is the Internet.
The arguments put forward by [redacted] are complete bunk. Here's a test. Go to www.gettyimages.com, take two of their stock photos, put them together as a meme and start sharing them without paying them any money.
Count the seconds until you receive a threatening letter from their legal team demanding exorbitant payment for use without authorization.
If you want to be safer posting online, here are some tips:
Watermark your photos
Post with your own set of usage rights you've assigned each image (Ie you may not alter or repost this image without prior authorization, etc etc)
Or just don't post photos you wouldn't want shared and turned into a meme (sad but true)
All the best to the mom and her kids. This isn't fair at all.
This is one of those articles that actually makes my stomach turn. My heart goes out to this mom. This page's "advice" was rude AND quite frankly, pretty stupid. These are her children, who are this side of too young to consent to being online, and they're being made fun of and called "socially unadapted." Umm, no, you can't steal pictures of someone's kids and then call them names. I don't care where they think "their" version came from.
OMG. This happens far too often and I'm so shocked at how companies have no ethical issue to help highlight that this is THEFT.
This is yet another reason I don't publish my daughter's face anywhere online - I have received more support than criticism with my decision but some do think we're being "over the top".
I know countless people who've had their photos stolen but not to this extent.
So sorry this happened to Susan - it can happen to anyone. Whilst we may understand the terms and conditions of photo usage and theft the vast majority don't and things move really fast online.
I was recently on Plenty of Fish and had discovered that a few of my colleagues from the blogging site Tumblr had their photos stolen by a company advertising to "date plus size beauties". I was shocked and disgusted. I collected as many of the images as I could and used my blog to track down the women in these pictures because I felt they were wronged. Unfortunately the company has not stopped using these photos (I just saw new ones the other day). Theft of intellectual property on the internet has reached an insane level of "okayness" and people need to know that THIS IS NOT OKAY. Even you iPhone snapped selfie is YOUR property, no matter where you upload it.
Last week there was a related kerfuffle regarding some mom bloggers and a Disney publicist. Someone pulled a photo from a "private" FB page and wrote a whole post around it.
The person that wrote the post wasn't the owner of the page or friends with the person who posted it either.
@jenelleconner Love the post.
I have been on a bit of a kick lately about the potential dangers of SM from a media standpoint... but I can only imagine how angry and hurt I would be if these were my own kids. It's quite a bit more personal.
FB memes are incredibly easy to put together and I'm seeing more and more fake ones ones pop up. Seems if your picture is on the net, you could be in a meme tomorrow. I've personally never shared one... although that's more of a personal communication decision than an ethical one.
I take that back actually... I did share ONE. But I made it myself, and it consisted of pictures of the President and LL Cool J.
I'm really glad that there is a dialogue going on, because I think that's the first step people are always wary of taking. My extended question would be: How widespread do you think this is? Are we all going to wind up in memes if this continues, or do you think this is a one-off circumstance?
Thanks for your comment Richard. I've never considered watermarking personal images but I've used Jet Photo for some clients. http://www.jetphotosoft.com/web/home/ Jet Photo has a batch feature that allows you to prep photos for web and insert a watermark on all of the images.
Excellent article, Jenelle. Makes me want to watermark a © symbol in every photo. Ultimately, photos that you take are considered your intellectual property. If you watermark your name and © symbol, they have to remove usage at your request. You do not have to do anything to protect intellectual property in terms of paperwork/lawyers, etc....it is already protected. In a court of law, you have to be able to prove you originated the photo if you sue for its use, which is easy to do if you have the high res version on your card/computer.
Hey Cynthia and KL - I agree, but I also feel like we need to make sure people understand that online images aren't "free" for the taking. The main problem was Susan's friend's boyfriend thinking it was okay to download the image and upload it on a public domain site. I think there is a lack of education, or maybe enforcement, when it comes to online images.
The discussion and Jenelle's closing graf about thinking twice about the share button also reminded me of an instance demonstrating how ugly social media is getting. A friend and coworker was one of several commenters in a newspaper forum on a controversial topic. Because she logged in under her FB profile to make her comments someone from the opposing view tracked her down to our place of work. They used the company website's "contact us" to send in a rather vicious email and threatened to discontinue any business dealings with the company. Obviously they had no dealings with our company so there's no serious risk there, but it's another example of how ugly things can get if you aren't careful with your social activity.
@Johnny40T Thanks for your comment.
As indicated in the update, "All images have been used with “Susan’s” permission. In her words, “…I appreciate the fact that you all are doing this to get it out there to show people how easily photo[s] can be taken without your permission.” ~SB"
Also, while I am not a lawyer, I disagree with your assessment that "Facebook owns the pictures once you upload them and they can do with them as they wish." I've provided additional details on Facebook's TOS in my conversation with @partymomma below.
Hello @Irony, Thank you for your comment.
As indicated in the update, "The following post was edited on May 1, 2013, to redact the names of the websites and related Facebook Pages involved. Since the identities of the particular parties involved in the incident described below are less important than the issues raised, we decided not to subject them to further scrutiny.
We have made minor edits to the post as indicated below that do not change its integrity, including blurring the faces of the kids involved. We have redacted the Page name(s) from any comments mentioning them, and will continue to monitor comments to do so."
I would like to also reiterate that unlike some of the places that chose to use this photo without permission from "Susan," I had permission to use these images from Susan in this way.
@Tommyismyname That's a completely sensible choice, and I think I would be inclined to do the same (if I had kids). I suppose the only risk is that someone else could post pics of your kids. This picture includes neighbours who are not the children of the person who took the photo. I wonder how their parents feel about all this.
@KimRandall Your comment about contests is an interesting point. While I'm not saying it is right, I feel like celebrities are a bit different because they are considered public figures. I think the hardest part about this situation is that "Susan's" privacy settings were in place. I agree with your bottom line - think before you post.
Facebook reserves the right to use the content you've uploaded for sponsored stories/posts. It says nothing about downloading the photo and turning it into a meme. I wonder if you'd have the same reaction if a photo of your kids were distributed without your permission and without your knowledge?
@partymomma Thanks for your comment. Can you elaborate on why you believe "Facebook owns the image" and "can sell it"?
Hey @TomMahoney, Thanks for your comment. I think you make a valid point. As indicated in my introduction to the post, I am a social media advocate. I believe that online communication is important for businesses and individuals. I want to see people sharing/posting/Tweeting/commenting/liking/you-name-it, but all with an understanding of copyright.
@Blackfish Hey, Jay, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. Just wanted to let you know that we redacted the name of the site per the update we made a short while ago, but have not altered your comment in any other way. Thanks for understanding!
@Blackfish Is that a voice of experience with Getty Images? ;)
I agree with your statement about watermarking photos for company pages, but I think it might be harder to get a basic social media user to add a watermark all the time. It's an added step. But if Facebook and other social media sites build an image classification structure like Flicker has -- you might get buy-in. Might.
@Ameena Falchetto Thanks for your comment. I agree on the education component. I think there needs to be a better understanding of online image copyright and privacy. I'm hopeful that we will see changes soon.
@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Do you have the link? I would love to read the article.
Thanks, @Daniel J. Cohen.
I just made this comment on Facebook - "...I also feel like we need to make sure people understand that online images aren't "free" for the taking. The main problem was Susan's friend's boyfriend thinking it was okay to download the image and upload it on a public domain site. I think there is a lack of education, or maybe enforcement, when it comes to online images."
Great extended question. I feel like we are heading toward a a big change in the enforcement of copyrighted images and how they are utilized online. It might take a nasty lawsuit to make it happen, but I believe it is coming.
@MattLaCasse mentioned removing the "Save As" function on pictures. That might be a good start.
@John Barnett Rude.
@John Barnett WOW.
@John Barnett That's absolutely terrifying.
@jenelleconner@Johnny40T Well to me it didn't make sense that she provided you with the pictures on a very public website if she was trying to prevent this from occurring in the first place on another public website. You also must have discussed the issue with her after the fact because you have since blurred the children's faces which were not blurred before. Also, your disagreement with my assessment is a subjective opinion and not objective or pertaining to the facts that I quoted above directly from facebook's website. When you grant a digital media company a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable,
royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content you post, you are in essence giving that digital media company full access and privileges to do as they wish with your pictures. I'm not sure what is left to be said. Your pictures essentially become their pictures.
@Sheli Rodney Great question. I can only speak for myself but I know how I would feel if an image of my family went viral in a similar way -- hurt and violated. I love seeing pictures of my friend's kids online, but I understand why some choose not to post. In my opinion, it's a hard call because we want to connect and share our lives with friends and family.
@Sheli Rodney @Tommyismyname You make a very valid point. Right now, our son is only 2, so it's much easier to police because he's with us all the time.
Family and friends know the rules, and there has been some scolding in the past, but as he gets a little older, we will ask him what he thinks, and let it be his decision as to whether or not it's ok.
If anything, one thing is certain. This is an area of parenting where we as a generation can't really ask our parents what to do, and have to define the rules as we go along.
@jenelleconner @BlackfishI do have some knowledge of the legal bullying certain stock photo companies engage in, as well as their rights vs what they say are their rights, yup :)
You're right though, doing it yourself is too much to ask, any site offering image upload/sharing should by default help us protect ourselves with basic creative commons type rights.
@jenelleconner @Daniel J. Cohen Removing the Save As feature on Facebook, unless you're the owner of the photo, would probably prevent many of these situations from happening. I'm not a programmer, so I have no idea how difficult that would be to implement. Remove the path of least resistence, and a large part of the problem disappears, I think.
If you read down a bit further in Facebook's TOS it says -
"5. Protecting Other People's Rights
We respect other people's rights, and expect you to do the same.
- You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else's rights or otherwise violates the law.
- We can remove any content or information you post on Facebook if we believe that it violates this Statement or our policies.
- We provide you with tools to help you protect your intellectual property rights. To learn more, visit our How to Report Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement page.
- If we remove your content for infringing someone else's copyright, and you believe we removed it by mistake, we will provide you with an opportunity to appeal.
- If you repeatedly infringe other people's intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.
- You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.
- You will not post anyone's identification documents or sensitive financial information on Facebook.
- You will not tag users or send email invitations to non-users without their consent. Facebook offers social reporting tools to enable users to provide feedback about tagging."