Think Twice Before You Leave the House

Source: Life is Amazing 2014

Source: Life is Amazing 2014

The traditional landscape of the public sphere is changing due to the advancements of modern technology. “Good public space is responsive, democratic and meaningful,” (Mehta 2014, p.53). However, it’s a person’s mobile phone usage in the public space that questions their ethical behaviour.

My expectations of privacy in the public space has been altered from this week’s lecture, I feel that I have no sense of privacy when I’m in a public space. Accordingly to Arts Law Centre of Australia (2014), “There are no publicity or personality rights in Australia, there is no right to privacy that protects a person’s image.” Thus you can photograph a person in a public space without their permission. Now more than ever, everyone has a mobile phone and has the ability to take and share photos of you online. Have you ever wondered how many times you have appeared in the background of someone else’s Facebook photo?

In June 2013 there were 19.6 million mobile phone subscribers with access to the Internet in Australia (ABS 2013). With a 13% increase from 2012, we are becoming a nation addicted to posting photos on social media from our smartphones at the expense of others. As seen in the below photo, American comedian Marlon Wayans selfie of Delta Goodrem dancing at a Beyoncé and Jay Z concert caused much controversy. The photo labeled ‘the most unrhythmic white woman’ posted on Twitter, initially was embarrassing for the songstress. Although Goodrem had a sense of humor and didn’t take the tweet to heart. However, it was not ethical for the comedian to post a racist comment along with the photo.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald 2014

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald 2014

When it comes to photo ethics, permission should be granted before you use the photo on social media, even though it’s not legally required. It’s in the best interest that your subject in the photo has the knowledge that a photo of them will appear online. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you will post the photo online or not.

When I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed or Instagram page there are numerous pages dedicated to making jokes of people in photos. It has become a social norm to laugh and share photos of people that have been taken in the public space. There needs to be a boundary set in place where social media users don’t post or support untasteful photos or video uploads. Although you can report and untag yourself from photos that you don’t like. But once there on the internet they are forever in the universe.

Unknowingly every move you make in the public is been recorded in some way. CCTV monitors are located in busy areas of the city for surveillance and security purposes. On top of that we now have to be wary of people holding mobile phones in our direction. Not only do we have to be careful of we say, act and do in the public space. You now have to worry about if an embarrassing photo of yourself might appear on social media.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, Internet Activity, Australia, June 2013, cat. No. 8153.0, accessed 3 September 2014,

Arts Law Centre of Australia 2014, Street photographer’s rights, Arts Law Centre of Australia, viewed 4 September 2014,

Life is Amazing, 2014, When you see a security camera, image, We Heart It, viewed 4 September 2014,

Mehta, V 2014, ‘Evaluating Public Space’, Journal of Urban Design, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 53-88.

The Sydney Morning Herald 2014, Is Delta Goodrem’s star climbing after Marlon Wayans’ selfie?, image, The Sydney Morning Herald Entertainment, viewed 4 September 2014,

By Bianca Tasevski Posted in BCM240

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