Thursday, June 29, 2017

Those Photos You Find on the Internet

We've all found pictures on the internet via Google searches.   We've used them on our Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and...ahem...blogs.  We're all guilty.

Somehow, everything and everybody winds up on that World Wide Web in some fashion.   Heck, my parents and grandparents' images are up there for the world to see via this blog site.  And my own image is there, thanks to friends who don't adhere to my strict "Len must review all photos before posting" policy.

Whatever the case, I doubt any of us think twice about using a photo we find on-line.   Several of my regular blog pieces are pictorial.   Funny store signs. Mug shots.  These turn out to be most inexplicably my most trafficked and sampled entries.  I am guessing people take some of the photos I post and use them for their own purposes.   

Okay, one of the sites I have used for photo extraction is Awkward Family Photos, which has become so popular that you can actually find these pictures now on a series of greeting cards.  The photo above is used to illustrate that site and I am including it here not to ridicule the kids in the picture.   But I am sure some folks have.   

Hey, it's on the internet so it must be fair game, right?

Well, maybe not.   Here comes the slippery slope and I have the perfect example of that.  Read on.

Admittedly, the commenting on Len Speaks is not frequent.   When one comes in, this is big news.   And I have settings in place that require me to approve the comment before anybody else can see it.   So, about a week ago, I find a proposed comment from a person who will remain nameless (although she used her full name in the body so, in my humble opinion, she leaves herself wide open for on-line problems).   Well, this person was taking issue of a photo I posted in 2013 for one of those "awkward" pictorials.   Ironically, the picture was more cute than deriding.   It was of a baby in a packing crate surrounded by those styrofoam shipping pellets.   Relatively harmless.   But here's the comment I got.

I am asking nicely to please take down the photo of my daughter in the box with the packing popcorn. To you it maybe an awkward family photo but to me it isn't. I didn't give you permission to use this photo. I don't even know how you got a hold of this photo because it is not on social media that I know of. Please do not take things that don't belong to you and put your stamp on it. I want it removed because you do not have permission to use this private family photo.

Now I immediately went back into my archives and removed the photo.  No issue.   But I also did a Google search and found the same photo on-line in some other portal.   The author of the comment claims that the picture was never put on the internet.   Well, maybe she didn't, but somebody connected to her did.   And it clearly got circulated all over the so-called web.   She might be a little trusting in her world, especially since, as I noted above, she used her full name in the comment.   

So, I guess this all prompts a much, much larger conversation about our rights and freedoms in the social media universe.   Gee, I use some sort of photo every single day on this blog site.  While, except for my monthly mug shot parade (and those folks deserve all the comic ridicule they can get), I don't get that offensive.   I've seen a lot worse on some of my friends' Facebook pages.  But where does the line get drawn?

Or does it get drawn at all?

We're all up there on the internet in some way.   And, know that even if you are careful, that photo of you in the unflattering bathing suit is probably being seen by a lot more people than you think.

Dinner last night:  Salad.

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