Tangent — Life is Weird and Other Facebook Adventures

September 15, 2011

Friends on Facebook

My oldest child is taking third year Spanish in college. Before this class, she had never taken any formal language classes and knew no one associated with the language program at her school. A couple of days ago she finally made a visit to the language lab where she logged into one of the computers and cruised around the school’s language site. Some external links were listed under helps, so she clicked on one of them. It was a YouTube channel designed to teach Spanish, and just for grins, she clicked on one of the videos and then sat open mouthed a minute later:

At about 1:20, there are two girls in black and white, and there is a sink behind them. Those two girls are my oldest and youngest children, and the sink is my kitchen sink, yet my daughter doesn’t know the owner of that YouTube channel nor does anyone she knows personally know the owner of the YouTube channel. She was naturally creeped out and called home to get some input. After SO and I finally realized she wasn’t pulling our legs, we sat stunned as well, and then all of us set about trying to figure out how the channel owner would have come to have this picture and use it to represent sisters. We speculated and ruled out all sorts of scenarios and then came to one that makes such sense.

The photo in the video was posted on my daughter’s Facebook page a couple of years ago, and she had labeled it “hermanita”, which is translated “sister” from Spanish. Although my daughter doesn’t have quite the tight security on her FB account that I would like, her account is fairly private and certainly this photo was private. Doesn’t matter. She posted a picture on her account where friends could see it. This implied a right for them to post it to their FB pages (whether that was a legal right or not), and apparently someone did take it and posted elsewhere. Once this was done, that person then extended a right to all of their friends, and if one of their friends decided to post it, the right was extended to all of their friends. Yes, I’m saying that if you put up a picture on Facebook, you can potentially lose control of it. Isn’t Facebook grand?

This can happen to any of us who are on Facebook or almost anywhere on the web. The protestations from Facebook about privacy and respecting copyright are immaterial. Yep, that’s right — they mean nothing. If it’s out on the web (and Facebook has a way of propagating information on the web the likes of which would make your head spin), the potential to be taken from you is enormous. Most people say to themselves, “Why would some stranger want my photos?” You may never know why.

I bring this post for those of you who are still enamored of Facebook but don’t realize the vulnerability it creates for you. Facebook is everywhere and gives others the ability to lift all sorts of things about you — the least of which are your personal photos — and again, it does not matter about your privacy settings. Well, unless you have no friends on Facebook which would defeat the purpose of the site. And I won’t even get into Facebook wanting to trademark the word “f*ce” and how invasive that may be. You can read about that here.

Obviously, what makes this case bizarre are the great odds of my daughter ever seeing herself this way, but it should beg a question of everyone: are there any photos of me, or anything else about me, somewhere I’m unaware of? Probably.

By the way, this is one of the reasons I will never post pictures of famous people in a family setting that the famous in question has not intentionally made public. I will not participate in the breaching of someone’s privacy. It is certainly not my place to do that with anyone’s photos — be they photos of the famous or not. Sadly, on occasion I have been sent what appear to be stalking pictures, and at one time I had a picture of what I’m pretty sure was a private photo of Richard Armitage’s family. That ran a chill up my back, and I couldn’t help but think of my own family. I’ll admit a wee part of me wanted to keep the photo. Thankfully, the better part of me, who lives by the Golden Rule, got rid of it. May the better part of me always dominate.

I told my daughter I was going to be posting this video and that I wanted to post some other pictures of her. She’s of the generation that expects to have their pictures and videos plastered everywhere without consent, but I’m of the generation that is still compelled to ask permission. And this should probably be a post just about her, but I’m not sure one blog piece would do justice to her. She has a lot of energy and is almost always smiling and laughing. It’s hard to get a picture of her when she’s not:

She is also larger than life but doesn’t realize it. Everyone who knows her can see it, and many of us think this photo captures it perfectly:

Update April 2018: my daughter is a college graduate with honors, speaks several languages, lives in NYC where she owns a business and is doing very well, is engaged to a fine young man, whom we like very much, and she finally made it to Machu Picchu. :D

beautiful young woman at machu picchu

P.S. I didn’t ask for permission to post this photo since it’s already posted on the web.