Sunday, September 18, 2016

Your Opinion?

You've seen the picture.

Hi professor Robertson!!

I'm in a bit of a confusing situation and I thought maybe you could give me some advice... I want clarification about whether or not I was in the wrong. I took a photo of an elephant exhibit at a big carnival in my hometown. I went to Facebook and I posted this photo online to promote the mistreatment of elephants. In the photo, there are small children riding the elephant.
When I posted this photo to facebook it unexpectedly got a lot of shares and call to action posts to treat the elephants better. I then received a facebook message from one of the children's moms:

While I understand your plight and respect your opinion on animal rights I don't feel it's fair that you spread photos of young children on the Internet without parental consent. These three kiddos are mine and I feel you have violated their privacy by snapping a picture of their faces and spreading it on social media. You posted their picture without stopping to think if doing so may reveal their location to an estranged family member, possibly putting them in a precarious situation. I get you feel sorry for the animal, and again appreciate your argument, but perhaps you should think of how your case could be presented without identifying minors. I would appreciate it you could remove this photo from your post so my kids don't have to worry about people who shouldn't be looking for them. Thank you."

Am I in the wrong? I did not mean to harm anyone and my purpose for this post was to spread awareness of the elephant problem. But This photo was taken at a PUBLIC event with no journalistic purposes whatsoever. My only concern is that the children are not of age to consent, but would they need to consent if the photo is at a public place?

Here is the photo:


As you can see, the children's faces are barely visible...

Please let me know! I'd love anything you have to share.


Tabi Reyes said...

I'm pretty sure she's in the wrong. Even if it was at a public space, minors' privacy should be protected. Parents ALWAYS have to give consent for minors -- and there's a reason for it. Minors do not have the right state of mind (others argue 'mental awareness of self') to make decisions for themselves. I think that it would have been more effective if the photographer took a photo of the "Ride an Elephant!" attraction sign. 1. No one will be in it. 2. You would probably be able to get the organization's name, in order to boycott that instead. The photographer's intent wasn't malicious, but they have to take into consideration what the parent thinks is best for their children. Don't you always have to ask strangers before taking photos of them anyway?

Brian Healy said...

If i was going to publish this story somewhere such as a newspaper or website then yes I agree with Tabitha, she should have gotten permission, but even then I've seen photos such as these where the faces aren't really that visible yet they are published. For what Clarissa was going here, however, I think she was completely in the right. She posted the photo not knowing how popular this would get and to be honest its facebook and no one can distinguishably tell who the kids are except the mom. To me those look like the run of the mill midwestern 4- 6 years old. Her intention was to make an impactful photo resonate with people, and it did. It brought awareness to the animal and the fact that the children were laughing and having a good time is a great juxtaposition to how the elephant looks. I also believe the mom is not happy with how the kids are portrayed as the ones, "abusing" this animal since they are riding it. no one wants to be associated with hurting such an animal.

briannasanchez3 said...

I see both sides of the coin in this dilemma. Putting myself in the mother's position, I would want to protect my children's identity if they were photographed participating in a controversial activity. However, I do get that the student who took the photo probably didn't take into account the safety of the kids (of which the mother was concerned with). If the mother approached me about taking down the photo, I would follow her wishes because I think it would be a courtesy to the family- even if the photo has already circulated the internet, it would make the mother feel better.

Shannon Weinreich said...

I think there are important points to be made for each side. While taking the picture and posting it brings awareness to the issue surrounding the mistreatment of animals, there is also a lot to be said for a child's right to privacy. I don't believe that the journalist had any bad intentions when posting the picture, and she says she never expected it to be shared so many times, but the mother reserves the right to consent to an image of her children being published. While I don't think the journalist would legally be held responsible, I think she should have at least tried to ask the mother's permission, or at the very least blur the faces of the children in the photograph.