Something strange happened over the weekend. A kind stranger, to me, sent me a message on Facebook to alert me to the fact that someone on this big bad web is using two of my photos. One of my son when he was a few weeks old and still in neo natal care and one when he was a few months old and smiling. You would be forgiven for thinking he was newborn though, as he still weighed less than your average newborn at this point.
It was 4am when I saw this message I had already been awake an hour pondering life, as you do. Once I had seen this message I clearly wasn’t about to roll over and go back to sleep, if what to do for dinner can keep me awake this sure as hell can. Within the message the lady had told me one of her friend’s children has also been used in his pictures and they were reporting it and perhaps I should to. When scrolling around the rest of his profile it seems that there are other photos of poorly tiny babies hooked up to machines and lots of harpings on about the need to vape. A guy with all the priorities, clearly.
Naturally I am not comfortable with this. The photo of me but didn’t bother me SO much, surprisingly, but the photos of my son. Wow. These photos are from such a hard time in our life and the one of him smiling means so much more to me than I realised. It was one of the first times he ever smiled. He was months old and it was a long long time coming. I was so worried he wouldn’t smile or that there was something wrong given his start in life, when he did start to smile it got me. Seeing this photo on this strangers profile, pretending my son is his? The feeling it gave me in the pit of stomach is something I haven’t felt before. I don’t want someone taking this from me and using it for goodness knows what. I felt my tiny helpless son was so vulnerable, that he was used. Used by a stranger.
Ultimately I guess this comes down to me. I was the the person who put those photos on the internet in the first place. Not just on my personal account but on my blog. A place I actively promote and celebrate when more people view it. I guess I am not blameless.
I accept that.
I accept that in writing about and publishing my life the way I do brings the risk of things like this. If I will put their photos on the net there is an inherent risk that something untoward may come of it.
I understand this very personally now.
However in publishing these photos what I haven’t done is given every Tom Dick and Harry rights to them. To pass them off as their own. After all copyright, plagiarism and intellectual property is a very lucrative business, or legal profession to be in these days and there is a reason for it. They are indeed very serious laws.
My blog is protected by copyright and to use it’s material infringes on that. I do believe he has taken these photos from my blog as they haven’t appeared on my public Tammymum Facebook page. They have appeared on my personal page but that is protected by the ‘security’ settings and is set to private, ironically.
Whilst I accept the role I have played in this, what I cannot accept is Facebook’s response. Reporting situations like this would seem remarkably difficult. You can report the profile and be given four scenarios to choose from as to why you are reporting the profile. The closest option being ‘this person is pretending to be me or someone I know’. Unsurprisingly Facebook did not agree and have said he is not breaking any rules and to report the photos specifically.
Well here is the best part, you can’t actually report said photos. You can message the offender and ask them to take them down, please. Excellent. I highly suspect the person in question here knows full well what they are doing and funnily enough my request fell on deaf ears. The photos remain.
I then took to publicising my predicament, on you guessed it Facebook, and those in support rallied round and all jumped on the bandwagon in reporting the profile. Unsuccessfully. It appears the strength in numbers approach doesn’t get Facebook listening either. In fact this is Facebook’s position…
When you post content on your Facebook page, you have the ability to configure privacy options regarding who can view that content. While some content may be strictly controlled, the majority of content is simply posted as “public.” According to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, any image posted with the Public setting carries the implicit acknowledgment that said photo is available for access and use by anyone — including entities not on Facebook. While permission for use is considered polite, it is not a prerequisite.
AMAZING. Let this be a word of warning to you. Essentially anything you post on Facebook becomes public property and people are free to do with it as they please. Wonderful.
Facebook; This is not good enough.
It is not good enough to cover your back by saying people can just do what the hell they like with your content. Publish at your own risk. There has to be some safeguard for situations like this, surely. Surely behind the multi billion dollar corporation that it is there are actual people making decisions at times like this and see right from wrong. Please tell me there is? Goodness knows you have the resources.
What is more, Facebook, these photos are not the public property of your sharing social media tool. They have not been shared on a public Facebook page. They are taken from a protected website and are being reported to you as the same.
Whilst I accept that my role in this, Facebook, you have really disappointed me in yours. You response is woefully in adequate and leaves people exposed and vulnerable. The photos and the way in which they are used could be so much worse. No doubt people have been in worse situations than this. Is it really acceptable to turn a blind eye then? Facebook you do have to shoulder responsibility of your users and you can. Giving everyone a carte blanche to do as they feel, but advising it would be polite to ask permission before they use something that belongs to someone else just not good enough.
Facebook you got this wrong, so wrong.