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Where does our right to privacy begin and end?

It seems like everyone has a smart phone, ready to record or document events around them at any time. This is great when you want to capture your child saying something cute or your dog performing an amazing trick.

But what about when you are documenting the lives of strangers…and then sharing it on social media, where other online voyeurs promote your live tweets and videos, helping them go viral, thrusting unwilling participants into the spotlight?

What’s the goal? Do you think you are doing the community a service? Are you trying to increase your own popularity? Are you trying to shame someone?

Of course, there are no laws or privacy protections in public spaces. That’s why the creepy guy at the beach taking pictures of bathing beauties isn’t ever arrested or told to stop.

He can’t use the photos except for his personal enjoyment. If he were to sell or profit from those photos or use them in advertisements, he’d need the “model’s”permission.

But publishing online gets fuzzier. Do we have any rights with regard to how people use our story or our likeness on their social media accounts when we are in a public place? What about all those people who live stream from a business conference? Can we say no?

Maybe we can’t. But we can at least abstain from participating in the spread of these posts and protect the unwilling, sometimes unknowing participants whose lives can be greatly affected regardless of the nature of their actions, whether they were caught doing something wrong, something nice or even something romantic.

Read more in The Verge’s post about the dark side of “turning strangers into social media content” and thrusting people into social media fame/infamy.

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