Private Eyes (are they really watching you?)

The concept of privacy today is much different than ever before. Privacy today is keeping your personal information to yourself. So much information about people is available on the internet, whether they like it or not. I’ve experienced this lack of privacy in my own life. For example, even though I don’t have a Facebook account, so much of my personal information has ended up on there just from other people posting things. It is almost like if you choose to be an active person and go out and do things, others will see it or find out about it online. It is my own choice to not have a Facebook, however, many of my friends and family members do have accounts. And through them, pictures of me are posted on Facebook. Then, as a result, random people I know can end up finding out where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with all because a friend posted pictures of us. I would consider this very un-private, especially since I try to keep my life private and offline. I personally feel that it is almost as if there is no preventative action or anything I can do without people somehow knowing more about my life than I bargain for. What I have concluded is that by putting something on the internet, even if the account is set on “private,” it will always lead to the possibility of other people finding out things you might not want them to.
When I was reading that article “10 People Who Lost Jobs Over Social Media Mistakes,” it hit me. For example, it mentions how a teacher who had her account on private was still asked to resign because other teachers whom she was friends with saw everything (like pictures of her drinking and partying) which led to the principal seeing it. So even though this account was “private,” people she wouldn’t want seeing the account still saw it. I personally find it hypocritical for a person to have any social media and yet want their life to be private. It’s kind of like if you are going to put yourself out there in any way at all, you need to expect an invasion of privacy. In the article “Making Sense of Privacy and Publicity” I found it dead on when the author stated that, “…privacy is about having control over how information flows.” One’s life cannot be private online since people talk and share information.
After watching the documentary, We Live in Public, I became seriously frightened. I was really disturbed by the entire thing. One thing that really stuck with me was when someone alluded to the idea that by being public with your information, you are basically just looking for attention or a certain “fifteen minutes of fame.” I know this is getting off on a tangent but I have to wonder and ask, are we really posting stuff because we find it interesting or cool, or is it what we believe other people will like? Is everything we say and post really just to get attention from others so we feel liked and socially accepted?
In conclusion, I realized that people can find out things about you without you even knowing. It really hit me recently as a friend of mine showed me a picture of a random stranger doing something weird. It is like at any time people might be watching what you are doing. I realize that I sometimes to take pictures of strangers that might be weird or look like someone I know. So based off of that, I think one can never have their life truly private, if they choose to go out in public. But I guess my question is…is it wrong to take pictures of people without their consent? Is that an invasion of privacy? Also, how many of you do the same?
These links were things I found interesting to our time.
I found some of the viewpoints of this article very interesting. Some similar to my own beliefs.

When I saw this, it just proved to me how popular taking secret photos of people is.


26 thoughts on “Private Eyes (are they really watching you?)

  1. First off, in response to “10 People Who Lost Jobs Over Social Media Mistakes,” people should have more common sense and awareness about what they post on the internet because again, what you say or a picture you post may not be private like you think it may be. I believe that whatever you post/upload on the internet can have the potential to be seen by anyone despite the privacy settings one can choose on Facebook, for example. Without being logged into Facebook, you can search someone’s name, view their profile picture, and save that picture! To answer your question, I think to secretly take a picture of a person you do not know is an invasion of their privacy. Why? Because 1. That person does not know you and you do not know that person. 2. That person did not give you permission to take their picture and 3. I know I wouldn’t like for anyone to take a picture without my permission so it would be hypocritical for me to do the same.

  2. It’s interesting that you should mention the teacher being asked to resign. I feel as though things like Facebook are meant to be open. I think it’s safe to assume that anything you put on the internet, anyone can see. It’s a bigger decision than most people may think. Granted, some people don’t really have a say in the matter (you said yourself that you have been included in various facebook activities) but to knowingly post something that people don’t really need to see, nor should they, it really is inexcusable. As for the secret picture, I know how it feels to have strangers take pictures of me. One time my friend showed me a picture of myself doing something unusual he found on facebook. I suppose when someone draws attention to themselves it does seem acceptable to take a picture, but next to no one would appreciate it. It’s just the world we live in.

    • I mean, I have to agree. It’s not like you can say “umm hey stop taking a picture of me”, if you are unaware. It is unfair for someone to post a picture of you onto Facebook without your permission though. It’s a weird situation because there is not much you can do about it. I do know of a family who is very cautious about their son (he is six) and if a picture is taken of him. They specifically ask people not to take his picture so it won’t somehow end up on the internet. To me it is reasonable and that is their choice.

  3. I do believe it is wrong to take pictures of people without their consent, however I have done it and I am sure many others do this as well. There is no way to stop this. It is an invasion of privacy because usually people are taking pictures of others because they find something funny about what that person may be wearing, or what they may look like. The person that snaps the picture then sends it out on their social media networks and to all their friends. This could have happened to any of us before and we will never know. That article you posted and how to take pictures without people noticing is creepy and funny at the same time. I can’t believe they are give someone steps on how to be a creep!

    Also, if you dont want pictures of yourself being posted by friends or family, you should probably just not include yourself in those pictures anymore

  4. Taking a picture of someone without their consent, is the same thing as taking a picture of someone and them never knowing. So personally I don’t think it’s wrong. For example, if I take a picture of someone who looks so much like my friend and I want to show her I would send it to her but then I would probably delete the picture. To some people it may be an invasion of privacy, but honestly how could it be an one when the person doesn’t even know? I have done this a few times but like I mentioned before I don’t save the pictures, just use them to get my point across.

  5. I think it depends on the scenario whether or not it is wrong to take pictures of people without their consent. For example, if you were at the mall and you saw a girl and you really liked her hair style I don’t think it would be wrong to take a picture of her hair without her knowing. I mean in all honestly she will never find out unless you happen to go to the same hairstylist. You are not harming her in any way so to me it isn’t wrong.

    Once again I think it depends on the scenario on whether or not it’s an invasion of privacy. When most people are out in public they are going to see people that they don’t know, meaning they shouldn’t care if someone takes a picture of them. Then again, there are some people who are very insecure and would care deeply if they knew someone was taking a picture of them without their consent.

    I have taken pictures of people without their consent; I think most people have. It’s something we don’t really think about we just do it thinking it’s not that big of a deal.

  6. When having social media accounts, I think it is absolutely critical knowing the privacy settings that are offered. If people know and use the correct settings, then I think it is still possible to have social media yet still live a private life because then you can control the friends you have and the information that is being spread.

    In terms of taking pictures of people without them knowing, as long as you’re not spreading bad information about them or hurting them, then I don’t think it is necessarily wrong. If they don’t find out you took the picture and they never know, then I really don’t think it matters what you do with the picture.

  7. I feel like most people will disagree with me on this one, but for the most part I think it is okay to take pictures of people without their consent. If you would asked me this a few years ago I would have thought differently, but now with social media things are different. There are always random pictures of people that are shared on Facebook, twitter, and tumblr(blog). About a year ago I met one direction and I took a picture with them. I posted the picture on my tumblr and within hours people were posting it all over their own tumblr. I know this is a little different, but I didn’t mind. I actually thought it was cool and felt I was claiming my “fifteen minutes of fame”. I feel like a lot of people think it is bad to take pictures of someone behind their back, but would not think twice to talk about them behind their back. My opinion on this sounds a little strange and somewhat creepy, but I feel like these specific areas of privacy should be the least of the world’s worries.

    • Wow, I really liked your insight. I hadn’t thought of that! Well I guess to a certain extent I would agree. I mean on tumblr and pinterest pictures of random people are reposted all the time. I mean technically, you are looking at strangers all the time subconsciously. I do think your specific case is cool, but again it’s kind of what our generation looks for. Through social media, we do like to feel cool and sometimes get attention.

  8. I feel the same way. As far as I am concerned, everything I do on a computer is easily viewable by someone. The only way something is “private” these days is if you write it down on paper and keep it with you. Anything virtual should really be counted as public. It’s funny to look at the incorrect bits of information associated with myself online through family members and more, but it’s creepy that I have been “linked” to them as well. I also like how you brought up the concept of Facebook creeping. Facebook is so public that it’s not even funny. While searching for friends I have definitely stumbled on incorrect results that have lead me to profiles of people that I will never meet and live in faraway places. After 30 seconds or so, I can know quite a bit about them without the intent to do so. The article from this link is comical, true, and scary at the same time.

    • This topic brings to mind something I learned in an intro Sociology course awhile back. There is a sociological theory about dramaturgy that in its most basic form states “when an individual comes in contact with other people, that individual will attempt to control or guide the impression that others might make of him by changing or fixing his or her setting, appearance and manner.” This is called the “Front-stage” presentation of self. The “Back-stage” is how we act when we are alone or with close friends and have no worries about impressions. (

      I think the problem that the writer of this blog has highlighted is that we cannot know when we are “Back-stage”. Anything we do can very easily be made public without our consent (e.g. friends posting pictures of us, or strangers taking photos of us). There are even problems with the “Front-Stage”. Which audience are we presenting to when everyone (both friends and co-workers (or even bosses) can all view what we say and do? Everything is muddled and I think everyone is experiencing a lack of privacy these days, Internet users or not.

    • Yes, that article is great. I had to laugh when the author said creeping was ok in moderation but not if it caused depression. Honestly, I think the whole Facebook stalking concept stems from boredom, but when you think about it, it’s a waste of time. I’d so much rather be out living life than at home creeping, but sadly I agree with the argument that social media is creating an antisocial generation.

  9. I too have seen myself in random photographs on Facebook. Nobody ever asked me if it was okay to post them but I figure that’s going to happen if you go out from time to time. Most of the photographs I was in however were taken with my knowledge at the time and it’s not like I’m going to go out of my way to avoid being in photographs. I can think of some circumstances where it would be an invasion of privacy so I guess the answer to your question would be it depends. If somebody tried to take pictures of me in my own home unknowingly then yes I do think that is an invasion of privacy. If I am out at a restaurant and someone happens to photograph me taking a bite of my food that isn’t going to upset me. I suppose what I’m saying is if you go out in public you are fair game to be photographed. If someone is going out of their way to spy on you especially in your own home then that obviously crosses the line. In this day and age it is very difficult to live a truly private life and people have come to expect that. With the emergence of social media and the internet, privacy has become an even bigger issue than ever and our acceptance of this new level of privacy will be tested.

  10. I have taken some pictures of people that didn’t know that I was taking pictures before but not too many. Most of mine though are of friends who are doing something strange that I then share with other friends of ours as a joke. But I am guilty of taking pictures of a few unsuspecting strangers here and there. I think that it is expectable to do this, our laws even tell us that it is expectable. As long as you are on public property when you take the picture of your unsuspecting subject you are in the right. I have the right to stand on the sidewalk and snap pictures of you through your window if I really wanted to, that is a little creepy and I think the line is starting to blur between legal and morale at that point. I personally would never do that, I would feel to shady, dirty, just wrong. The idea of secretly taking pictures is legal but can blur the line of morality a bit. If you are in a public space it is morally acceptable for someone to snap pictures of you even if you do not consent.
    But in a less creepy way this same law is employed by automotive journalists all the time. All the pictures you see of car prior to the release date are generally taken in that fashion. They set up with a high powered lens on public property where they have a view of the private test facility and snap pictures when they get a glimpse of the new hot release. I live just down the road from the GM proving grounds and drive past people doing this all the time. They are within their legal right and nothing can be done to stop them from doing so, but boy does GM try. They install giant fences and try to bully people off the spots that you can see the cars from. It is pretty fun to just stand there and wait. You can tell it gets under their skin.

  11. Even having a profile set to private does not always hide your pictures. I’ve heard of people who’s pictures are taken and people make fake profiles about them. They just use random pictures they can find with that person in it and make a seemingly legitimate profile. As for the secretive pictures, there are always going to be people in backgrounds of pictures, you cant really avoid it. Also i have personally had people ask me questions about events i never talked about, simply because a friends tagged me in a post or a picture, people knew i was there. And its impossible to watch every direction to make sure no one is taking pictures of you. Do i feel its an invasion of privacy? Very much so. But there isn’t a way to completely avoid it unless you move to a deserted island or never leave your home.

    • That was my point of view pretty much. Its so hard to avoid. There is no way to know. I guess it is something that needs to be accepted if you choose to go out. What else is there to do? I personally find it rude though if someone took a picture of you without you knowing and posted it to Facebook, assuming they know you. Even if it is a joke it might be something you don’t want others to see, but again, it is the risk you take being on social media.

  12. In regards to taking pictures of people without their consent I think that it is wrong, but I also think that we are in way too deep with the internet to do something about it. For example, if pictures of you are not on Facebook or Twitter that doesn’t mean you are private. An example I would like to add is the commodity of Google Maps. How many times have we heard of Google catching people tanning naked outside or doing some arbitrary activity that they thought no one would ever know they did? I think that the term privacy has lost all meaning. I just recently saw on the news that even peoples snap chats are not erased they’re actually stored in another place. So is it wrong for people to take and post of pictures of you without having your consent? Yes I think it is. Is it an invasion of privacy? I think so, but then again privacy is an ancient concept with today’s technology.

    here is the snap chat link

    • Snap Chat is such a false sense of security for a lot of people. I know it tells the user that someone has done a screen shot of your photo, but what good does that do? It’s already too late at that point.

      The Huffington Post article brings this idea to light. Nothing is ever private on the internet anymore and things can be retrieved if the person knows what they’re doing.

  13. Lack of privacy is such a scary thing now! It’s so easy for someone to look you up on facebook, see your place of employment, or where you go to school and show up there. I know a few people that it has happened to. It’s so creepy, but yet something that a lot of people don’t think about.

    I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but if you go on Facebook chat from your phone, it will sometimes show your exact location. I was talking to my friend and she pointed out that it said my exact street and everything. I disabled it now, but it’s automatically on when I log in sometimes. That is incredibly creepy and could be so dangerous if it got into the wrong hands. I mean I don’t add anyone I don’t know, so it’s not as big of a deal for me, but it still has some scary potential.

    I think people need to be more aware of what they post!

  14. I find it interesting that you think things cannot truly be private on social media sites such as Facebook. I have an account and mine is completely private to those who are not my friends. For our first project, I took the liberty of logging out and searching through my profile via Google. It popped up a link to my account, but when you clicked on the link, it led you to nothing, not even a picture or a secured profile.
    The thing about having things like Facebook and other social media sites is that people put up pictures and “check in” at places they’re at to get others attention. Is it necessary that people check into places like Lowes, Target, or their school? No, but people do it anyway because they want to attract attention and have people ask later, “Oh hey, I saw on Facebook you were at Target! What did you get?”
    When I first created my account, I went picture crazy. I uploaded a bunch of pictures that really had no meaning except for people to hopefully go through and like. Some were of things I did or vacations I took or people I knew. However, as I got older, I realized that there was no point for any of those pictures to be there and a deleted most of them or set them to private. I became more socially aware about what’s on the internet.
    As for the consent, if you don’t want your picture on Facebook or anywhere else, ask people not to post it. Most of the time, they are actually understanding. However, I have to argue that there is much more out there, worse than a photo of you at a family gathering. You can search your name and things like your age, where you are from and telephone numbers will pop up. I’ve never put my address or telephone number out there on the internet, but it still pops up somehow on various websites.
    In my opinion, there are a lot of things that can’t ever be fully private again, however, there are ways of securing your information on your own terms. You just have to be aware of what’s out there.

  15. Well privacy is very important to all yet we live in a world that is no longer private. I have a facebook n Twitter now because this class and I am aware of the fact that its for whoever wants to see it. Because of the awarness I have of our cultures lack of privacy I ask friends if they mind if I post a picture of them if they aren’t or are on facebook, just because its them and not me and they may not want certain things on there. I do not agree that someone should be fired because of what they post to a social networking site. It is mainly for entertainment and sociallizing purposes and for that it shouldnt be used to judge someones work performance unless they are at work drinking and partying. While privacy is rare in a society of smart n camera phones it is possible to maintain a private life without having to stay inside. Here are a few things I do and ask my friends:
    Ask friends not to post certain types of pictures of you
    Dont act a fool in public because someones always ready to take a picture or video of someone being silly. For example all the Wal-Mart videos and pictures.
    Finally understand that unfortunately jobs do look at these varies sites, try and maintain a certain level of tact, respect and filtering of info allowed to appear on your page.
    I hope these tips help your life stay more private

  16. Although I am an avid user of some social networks, I have to say I agree with what you are getting at. If you use social networks, you cannot consider yourself a private person, much less be ‘shocked’ when your privacy is inevitably invaded. Everyone who uses any form of social network has had their privacy invaded at one point or another, and if they haven’t yet, undoubtedly, they will. However you said it yourself: even if you choose not to take part in any social media, your information will get out there eventually. Because of this, I’ve got to ask – if you can’t beat ’em, why not join ’em?

  17. You bring up a lot of great points in this blog. I think overall our generation has become accustomed to posting everything online as way of expressing identity. One thing that stuck out to me was the idea that we cannot keep ourselves off social media regardless of whether or not we have profiles. Whether its through twitpics or event albums on facebook it’s pretty much unavoidable. In many ways we have had to adapt to the idea that instead of “fifteen minutes of fame” people are striving for “fifteen minutes of fame everyday” through social media.

    However, in response to your question, I definitely think “secret” photos are an extreme invasion of privacy. We’ve seen websites that post funny “secret” photos and some people even post them on twitter. It’s one thing if a friend takes a funny picture of you doing something but when it’s a stranger who isn’t asking for any attention, its crossing the line.

  18. I hate it when my fellow humans take digital photographs and video without asking permission. It’s, in my estimation, proper western etiquette and a function of human decency to ask permission before capturing a person’s image to manipulate as one sees fit. For that matter, I hate it when I’m out to enjoy live music, and instead of just listening to the band, people are watching the band through their phones. This is repugnant to me. Is it a sign of the times? Perhaps people feel that since their government can observe them as they see fit, they can treat their fellow civilians just the same. As for that awful website that displays “secret pictures,” its just another example of the culture of casual cruelty that permeates our nation. “Ha ha look at that poor person on the subway,” say the fiends who watch reality tv show and watch live music through their phones. I hate ’em.

  19. Anytime someone passes through a drive-thru window to order a burger or stops at an ATM machine to take out a twenty or picks up a prescription at the pharmacy their likeness is being captured. In deed, many homeowners are now installing security systems that have video mechanisms attached to record visitors and intruders alike. An article from (New Jersey on line news) indicates, “…69% of public companies and 59% of private companies are using video surveillance…” admittedly, most people realize that banks and stores they enter will be video taping them, but what about the local gym or at a BBQ in your neighbor’s back yard. In these scenario’s your image may not be posted publicly, but don’t believe for a moment that a room full of security guards aren’t laughing at the guy who picked his nose in the lobby or the homeowner who shows footage of drunk Uncle Ed, stumbling around the house, to the neighbors. Actually, from I have ascertained it’s not illegal to publish these images (certainly private images captured) and in each of these scenarios no permission was obtained.

    So, it’s hard to see much difference in these circumstances and that of someone taking your photo with a camera phone without your permission.

  20. I think anything one does in public is by definition in the public domain and they should have no expectation of privacy associated with those actions. So the person making a fool of themselves at a concert or restaurant should not be surprised to find those events shared with others on the internet. That said, I do think technology has made it easier to invade one’s privacy. For example, taking pictures of someone at church outing or at a dinner party is an invasion of privacy and people should have recourse if that privacy is violated. I suppose never venturing outside or interacting with people would ensure total privacy, but given the infeasibility of that, I suppose the best we can do is not to do anything that we wouldn’t want our mothers, spouses or children to see. In this way, perhaps technology is enabling a society to self police itself? If so, I expect to see my taxes reflect the lower cost of law enforcement…

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