Images on the Internet

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Boston

When it comes to the internet and images, it truly can be a dangerous place. There are so many people taking images of everything around them, or sharing content that they deem interesting or something that should be shared that there is no way for people to be safe from all images. When someone posts something on their page, it shows up on others and whether or not you are ready for them, they can be seared into your mind.

Such is the case with photos from the Boston Bombing. While it is important for people to see the tragedy, and understand the horror that people went through that day, there is also the case of people being bombarded with horrifyingly graphic images. Ethically, how does that work? What if you knew a loved one was running the marathon and while you were looking on their Facebook to see if they had posted something, an image of them in pain showed up on your feed unknowingly posted by someone else? Can you imagine the gut wrenching heartbreak? While someone did this unintentionally, while trying to get the information out to the public, it still should be thought about in more ways than one.

What about children who are on social media? On one hand, the argument is that children shouldn’t be on social media, but what is the age requirement, 13 years old? If they are friends with their aunts, uncles and cousins, odds are someone can share something that is graphic and unsettling and someone who should have warning is shocked by the images. While these occurrences are important and should not be diminished or ignored because of wanting to not scare people, at the same time, sometimes I think a graphic image warning would be great.

NSFW

I know that images that are “Not Safe For Work” or NSFW have warnings, why not images that are graphic enough to emote a reaction of shock and horror? This way people would be aware of what is going on while not having the shock of seeing an image they were not prepared for.

Ethically, I think that people do not always take into consideration that what they are posting will be seen by others. I know I have not always considered the implications of what I am posting, it is natural to only think of what you want to post, and not of what other people will be seeing. However, I think that if people put a little more thought into what they post and if major companies took the time to create a warning on articles that are being shared across the web, it would make social media a safer place.

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4 responses »

  1. Amanda,

    Great thoughts, especially your thought about a citizen journalist potentially posting a picture about one of your loved ones. I’ve never really stopped to think about it that way. While I understand that these photos are going to pop up and happen, what would I do if I couldn’t get a loved one on the phone, and I saw them come up in my newsfeed from CNN or from someone else. I would be at a complete loss.

    I have a tougher time with the young child argument, especially as parents are lying about their children’s age to get them on Facebook. I understand that it is “cool” and so many kids want to have Facebook. There is a reason that 13 is the legal age to be on the internet and to use certain programs. More so, some of the content, even with filters, that is shared on these programs is not appropriate for everyone. The hope is that more people are paying attention to it.

    The idea of having a filter or way to let people know that an image is not safe is a great idea. I think we live in a culture where we no longer post spoilers, so why can’t we put something in place for photos?

    • Hi Kristin,

      I am glad you can understand where I am coming from on posts created by citizen journalists. I think it can be incredibly jarring to look for information and find that on your newsfeed. I think you make a great point about parents lying to get their kids on Facebook. At that point, it is their fault and I feel bad for a kid being exposed to it, but it is their parent’s fault. However, if I feel at 26 that it is hard to see these images, I have to think that even someone at 15 might have a hard time seeing the same images. You make a great point though! We don’t share spoilers anymore, so why do we still share graphic images! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Hey Amanda,
    I also wrote about youngsters on social media being exposed to graphic images. It would definitely be shocking to me at that age. I’m not a parent, but I think they would be fairly upset if their child saw a graphic image as well. Recently I’ve seen a lot of violent elephant and wild animal poaching photos on Facebook. These images snap me out of whatever joy I’m having on social media and remind me that violence is still happening, whether I ignore it or not. It’s just an odd roller coaster of emotions to go through. So much so that I don’t think we experience these emotional swings elsewhere, online or offline.

    Your NSFW comment made me think of an idea. Maybe Facebook could blur graphic photos with a warning. A user would then have to click the photo to see the clarified version. A simple feature like this would definitely make my social media experience better.

    Nice post!

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