Impact of ignoring travel blog ethics
In travel blog ethics we looked at some of the who’s and how’s. Now lets take a look at the outcomes of how ignoring travel blog ethics can affect & destroy lives.
The following are 3 brief real life situations in order of severity: (names changed)
3. (Asia) “A group of friends were teaching English for a year. “Jen” wrote weekly updates in the form of a travel journal. One entry read similarly to this:
“The girls have really gotta stop eating all that BBQ. Susan couldn’t even fit into a size ten yesterday at the mall!”
Sufficed to say, the ladies were none too happy at having their weight gain mentioned.
Jen was asked to take it down. She didn’t as she felt it was her personal travel journal. For the remaining 6 months she was socially snubbed by the others.
Ethically Jen believed she was right to publish her journal, and the true facts of the day. Doing so cost her two friendships, a host of bad rumors and a not so pleasant remaining 6 months of teaching. Maybe she was right, but it could have been written in a different way.
2. (Africa) “Josephine” & “Simon” were at a expat party, and basically got it together. Josephine published photos of them at the party on her travel blog. Simon’s wife saw it. That summer there was a divorce.
While Simon should not have been fooling around on his wife, Josephine’s actions of blogging about it published it all to the world. Rumor has it she knew he was married. Was she ethically right or wrong?
1. (Tibet) As we sheltered in a hotel during the Lhasa riots 2 years ago I saw people accept huge sums of money from global news corporations for photographs & video from the chaos filled streets outside. Some accepted, others turned them down.
During this time the Chinese Army were doing house to house searches looking for people identified from CCTV and online news footage. No trials, just prison for that person, and their whole family.
The hotel lobby was filled with locals glued to the internet news sites.
Trust me when I say the look in the eyes of these people of sheer terror will teach you all you need to know about ethics in a heartbeat.
The world turns to slow motion as they jam their faces to the screen and panic as someone that may look like them is shown on a street. It’s not just their lives, but the lives of their whole families that are in jeopardy.
Even those conscious about the media, still uploaded photo’s to their personal travel blogs. The general comment was,
“no one will see it, it’s just for friends and family”.
Sorry, search engines pick up everything these days. As do people specifically looking for things like this.
As for me and a few others? A few of us refused the money on offer 2 years ago. It would have been a blessing to me, but a sentence to hell for others. It’s not in me to do that.
The BIG ethics question
Which is more important to travel blog ethics, to publish the plight of a people or refuse and hopefully save a life from prison or victimization?
The destruction of lives through blogging
I don’t want a “Tibet” debate here. But I know of several personal bloggers, and people who uploaded their videos from those days to Youtube. Nothing was censored, faces were visible.
International media have already reported on the rounding up of hundreds of people from those days. Many people have not been seen or heard from again since then.
Now, two years later, I am still being emailed repeatedly by various organisations asking for these photos, un-edited, high resolution and uncut. I still refuse. Months after the riots, the Tibetan Government in exile confirmed to me, and asked for them not to be published for the safety of others.
Right or wrong, bystander or rioter, the images from that day showed the efforts of some who believed in a cause to the world. To others they were a sentence to prison.
Travel Blog ethics, who’s responsible?
In a word, you. Imagine yourself traveling in a hot country. You see a man sleeping on a bench in a lane way as the power is out, and there’s nothing to do. You photograph him, and publish it on your blog. You leave the country.
Meanwhile unbeknown to you, back in the country several months later. The son of a business owner is browsing and stumbles on your post. He recognized the sleeping man. The next day the man is fired for sleeping on the job.
You’ll never know. But, your travel blogging actions may affect others if you don’t exercise caution first.
A question to ask yourself before clicking that publish button: Can this photo, or written piece, detrimentally affect any person involved in it?
The issue of publishing photo’s that can affect others
In the previous article many people commented and expressed concern about the legalities of taking someone’s photo and publishing it. I am not a lawyer, and even if I was, I couldn’t answer this for you. Why?
Photographic laws are different in every country. What’s legal in India, may not be so in the U.S.A. or U.K. or Australia nor France etc,.
The general consensus is that photographing a person as the main subject matter, and then selling it online can leave you open to legal action if written permission was not acquired first.
The issue of privacy is separate. Google Earth is a prime example as people went to court preventing them from using any street view photo that a person felt they were identified in. I believe this was upheld in the U.K. and Google had to blur photos.
Ethics of Photography Resources
If you are really concerned or would like to know more about photography laws, then I recommend a podcast / website called PhotoLegal. It’s based in the U.K. But many things mentioned there can be applicable elsewhere. If not, then it’s still well worth downloading and listening to a few episodes to get an overview.
Somethings to think about concerning the ethics of blogging
In hindsight, have you ever taken a photo and now think that it might affect someone?
Do you ask yourself when writing a blog post if it will affect anyone mentioned in it?
Are you, for sure, aware of the photo laws in your country?
If you have any useful links / resources to do with photographic laws / rights, please leave them in the comments below so we can share resources.
Likewise if you’d like to read an article on photography, the law & your rights, then let me know in the comments too.
Why I might not be able to write here anymore …