This Week In Web - 8.22.14

  •   Miki Pacifico

By Miki Pacifico

This week – Twitter snuff film, invisible children, and genius shower thoughts.

Social Snuff

The Twitterverse is all aflutter this week with outrage against the social media platform for removing video footage and images of American journalist James Foley’s beheading at the hands of ISIS. This move was precipitated by the death of Robin Williams and the harassment of his daughter, Zelda, with doctored images of her father’s suicide. Those outraged by the platforms removal of the offending images wonder where the line is drawn between censorship and freedom of expression.

Mostly, though, they should be outraged at having made it to adulthood with no common decency.

It is my personal opinion that it is the right and responsibility of the administrative staff of a massive social media platform to shut down any and all sharing of snuff. I was talking about this issue with friends at dinner last night and it brought up the question “at what point does footage of someone’s death become snuff?”

According to the legal definitions, which let me tell you are incredibly difficult to find in the first couple pages of a Google search, a film is defined as snuff if it is used to profit.

Let’s get extra sticky here because there are many, many ways to profit from a film. ISIS profits from the distribution of James Foley’s beheading video through fear and submission. The intended purpose of the video was to receive a ransom, the very definition of a profit. Therefore it is, by its very definition, a snuff film.

Shutting down the distribution of images of death intended to harass someone, but most especially a loved one of the deceased, is just common decency. Let’s be clear, Twitterverse. You are not owed anything. You have a right to free speech within the confines of the law. Try to be decent about it.

Invisible Children

Let’s use our imagination here for a minute with the aid of your internet browser. I want you to head over to Google and type in your own name. Then I want you to pull up the image results. Quite a saturation of your own face, right? Pictures you forgot were ever posted to the internet are there from many years ago. Pictures of relatives, friends, relatives of friends, friends of friends. How does Google know that you are Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon from all these people?!

Dont Google Yourself

This is precisely the issue many parents are attempting to avoid. The new parenting trend, though I can’t say that I disagree, is to put a moratorium on images of their children online. Parents are asking friends and relatives to not post those adorable photos, not to tag them, not to mention their child’s legal name even in passing. The purpose of this ban is to protect the privacy of their children until such a time as they can decide on their own. If I had my way, that wouldn’t be until the late 20’s.

Here’s the part where you use your imagination and a little bit of mathematics. Take the amount of photographs on the first page of Google’s image results that feature your face or the face of someone you know. Use that number and divide it by the number of years since you got your first social media account. Then take THAT number and multiply it by your current age. I realize I am a bit of a data nerd, so bear with me here.

Here is my equation:

27÷13 = 2.08

2.08 * 28 = 58

58 potential pictures publicly available if I had been on the internet since infancy. I have my Facebook account on total lockdown, so even this many is shocking to me. I use my imagination to multiply the ACTUAL number of pictures that exist in just my facebook account and the resulting number is astronomical.

That’s a lot of pictures that my mother would have had to scan from film and upload to the web (I'm old). And lets be real, many parents online post that many pictures in a week without being savvy enough to adjust their Facebook privacy settings or even give their kids a nickname or code name for online purposes. My husband disagrees with my stance on this, mostly I think because he doesn’t want to have to regulate what he puts on his Instagram account. It's probably important to note that we have no children and regularly post pictures of our dogs. Read through the justifications these parents give and you may find it as hard as I do to come up with a sufficient counter argument.

Just For Laughs

There is just something about Nick Offerman. I can’t tell you what it is, maybe it’s the mustache, maybe it’s the faux-grumpy exterior, but I just love everything he does.

Nick Offerman is the gift that just keeps on giving.