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Phil Villeneuve
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Paint a vulgar picture

An editorial about the photos of our lives

01.05.2013

The photo featured here is of me and a couple friends at an Easter-bonnet parade we put on in Trinity Bellwoods park last spring. I love this picture because it captures a magical moment, with my carefully constructed hat made of plastic flowers, foliage, bunnies and eggs. It was taken on my phone. It was instant and I posted it to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — easily shared and released into the universe without a care. I really like how this works, but it’s also why I don’t post pictures of my dink, my bum, me looking like a haggard mess or anything too close to my heart.

Recently, Instagram changed its terms of service, explaining that it now reserves the right to publish any photos uploaded to the social media outlet for commercial use. Similar to what Facebook reserves the right to do.

The public backlash was speedy and the company quickly backtracked, with spokespeople claiming that that was not what they meant (exactly) and that as long as users set their accounts to “private,” Instagram could not use the hot pics contained within. (Editor’s note: change your settings to private right now.)

Not that the lack of control over one’s photographic art isn’t slightly disturbing, but I really don’t give a shit. 

If you don’t want your ass or your hot-tub make-out photo to end up all over the internet (and don’t worry, Instagram wouldn’t want to use that stuff in the first place), then don’t post it.

Users love the freedom to post whenever, wherever for free but get upset at the slightest threat of a company encroaching on their uploads. I’m guessing that unless someone was on a ski hill in Mont Tremblant and snapped a photo of a visiting Obama, no one at Instagram gives two hoots about random people’s pics. If a social media user doesn’t want that drunken basement-party photoshoot with Sierra filter applied to end up on the internet, then don’t post it. It’s that simple, isn’t it?

We live in a really cool time where we can document our every move, indicate our location, who we’re with, what we’re doing, make it look like a vintage Polaroid, and all in less than 10 seconds. It’s a powerful tool that we should treat with care but also not take too seriously. Instant updates, fleeting photographic moments — they’re almost disposable; viewers lose interest in milliseconds. So post away, I say! Have fun with it! Just keep it in your pants, unless you want us to repost it on the Fab Tumblr page before lunchtime. —Phil Villeneuve


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    • Christopher King
      1/7/2013 9:20:05 AM
      This is so true. I'm frankly amazed at people's reaction to privacy issues. A simple Google name search is usually sufficient to show a person just how little privacy is really out there on the web.
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