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Is it ever okay to film strangers in public?

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the growing trend of people secretly filming strangers in public and posting the videos online, often without the subjects' consent. It explores the ethical and legal implications of this practice, as well as the cultural shift towards increased public filming and voyeurism.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] The Experience of Being Secretly Filmed

1. What happened to Mitchell Clark, the 25-year-old working at Target?

  • Mitchell Clark was working a shift at Target when someone propped up a phone nearby, which he initially thought was for a prank channel.
  • It wasn't until a woman bent over in front of him, exposing her bare bottom, that he realized the phone was recording him. The resulting video was posted on the woman's OnlyFans account.
  • Clark felt the video made him look like a "creep" and was an extreme example of a trend where women secretly film men's reactions, either to shame them or highlight their own beauty.

2. How did Clark respond to the incident?

  • After making a video about how uncomfortable he felt, other accounts reposted and responded to it, highlighting the ways in which public filming culture had gotten out of control.
  • Clark is hoping to get the help of a lawyer to get the original video taken down, but he's aware that there is little legal recourse for people in his situation.

[02] The Rise of Public Filming and Voyeurism

1. How has the rise of social media and platforms like TikTok contributed to the trend of filming strangers in public?

  • The ability for anyone's camera phone video to go viral, combined with the ease of achieving overnight fame on TikTok, has turned filming strangers in public into a controversial cottage industry.
  • Influencers on platforms like Vine, YouTube, and Instagram have long used passersby as unwilling background actors to gain clout, and TikTok has allowed those people to offer their sides of the story and actually get heard.

2. What are some examples of accounts and content that have emerged from this trend?

  • Accounts like "People of Walmart," "Subway Creatures," "Passenger Shaming," and "Influencers in the Wild" have gained millions of followers by collecting and sharing images and videos of "bizarre-seeming" people and situations in public.
  • Even supposedly wholesome content, like the "Plane Bae" story, has been criticized for violating the privacy of the people involved.

[03] Legal and Ethical Considerations

1. What are the legal and ethical arguments around filming strangers in public?

  • There are arguments that filming in public places creates an independent record and can be important for documenting matters of public consequence, such as police encounters.
  • However, the legal system has struggled to keep up with the rise of "forced faming" and the use of people's likenesses without their consent, especially in cases that are not clearly newsworthy.
  • Ethically, many argue that it is never acceptable to film random strangers in public without their permission, as it violates their privacy and dignity.

2. How are cultural norms and pressure being used to influence this behavior?

  • Accounts like Joey Swoll and YouTubers like Kurtis Conner have called out the practice of filming strangers, but there is also hypocrisy in how some of these accounts operate.
  • Platforms could theoretically demonetize accounts that profit from non-consensual voyeurism, but this is difficult to enforce. Ultimately, it is up to audiences to shift cultural norms around what is acceptable behavior online.
Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
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