I was contemplating a blog today, and wondering what I wanted to talk about, then I popped onto Pinterest to upload a photo to one of my boards. Needless to say, it took about thirty seconds to remind me why I frequently bitch about people’s inability to read when they use public sites. Some folks appear to think public means they can do what they want, with impunity. Not so. Terms of Service–it’s time to read those things, at least in part, so you understand what is and isn’t acceptable on PUBLIC sites. There was a time when I would never have made that statement, because it would have gotten me in shit with a lot of people. Truth is, though, terms of service on sites like Pinterest and Facebook, and all the others we take for granted, are there for everyone’s protection.
I discovered today that I have a small group of younger followers on Pinterest, most of them between 16-18 years old. Since I did take the time to read the ToS for Pinterest, and it just seems prudent to be circumspect anyway, my boards are pretty much non-sexual zones. The raciest photos I have are a couple of my friend John Quinlan’s rear view, and some artful photographs of model Raul Popa that were shot by Maurizio Montani. Today, because of various connections, I was treated to the vision of some girl with a guy’s head between her legs having a go at her hoohah… Another one of several males performing various sexual acts on each other, and assorted blindfolded and gagged women on their knees with some man’s crotch in their faces. Is crap like this supposed to be sexy? Is this the kind of thing you want your young daughters seeing if they use a public site like Pinterest? Those ToS you conveniently ignored state quite clearly that this sort of shit violates the site’s operating rules.
Facebook is a prude, too. I’ve had my run ins and slaps on the wrist for offending someone’s sense of propriety with a photo I’ve posted. An author I know was given a slap on the wrist by Google+ and we still don’t know what that was about. The common outcries over the bans and the warnings are hysterical–everyone is outraged, calling the reporting parties “haters” and in language worthy of the drunkest lout you’d ever encounter. Yes ladies, you sound so classy with your snarling foul words. I’ve resorted to them myself, but came to the conclusion that I wanted to be regarded with a little more class, so refrain from exercising that particular “freedom” unless truly incensed.
In reality, I accept that there are a ton of trolls looking for shit to report, but there are just as many people with real grounds for their annoyance. Despite what you think, YOUR page on Facebook is not really yours–it belongs to Facebook, doesn’t it?–they have allowed you the privilege of an internet presence on their site. Pinterest allows you to share your interests with the public at large, but expects a little commons sense and “decency” to apply in what you choose to share. Cry censorship if you like, the fact remains, there is a general rule of expectation that intelligent human beings will realize that perhaps not everyone sees photos of people having sex as art. More often than not, the mass population will call that pornography, won’t they? Yet many cry foul, and their friends jump on the bandwagon, until it becomes a huge deal over nothing.
We live in an age when the internet connects the planet, and everyone has a voice. Some of those photos you think are so hot and sexy–they could have you arrested for indecency in some countries, couldn’t they? I’m not making a judgement about how right or wrong that is, just pointing out the reality. There are MANY people to consider when you make a public presence, and just as many when you make a public spectacle of your annoyance. (Learned the hard way, so not throwing stones, I’ve had my moments!)
Cyber-stalking is a reality, identity theft is a reality. Yet, people get incensed when a site like Facebook shuts down a fake profile because the owner can’t prove they’re real. This is especially true of groups of role players. It’s a crap shoot how long those profiles will stand, and what needs addressing is this notion that the users have the RIGHT to create and run fake profiles. Where does it say that in the rules Facebook gets you to sign off on when you create an account? Hell, I had to produce my passport for them last year to prove I am a real person, and after a little digging and some questions asked, the irony is I was reported by a profile that was an author’s character, not a “real” person.
ALL publicly used sites are owned by corporations, not the individuals who use them. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, all of these and more. You may own the rights to the personal data you share, but you do NOT own the pages you create, those are the property of the site you choose to use as your platform. That’s the simple version of ToS. Legally, there are undoubtedly a hundred ways to interpret or dodge who owns what. That’s not the point, really. In the end the point is even more basic–use your social sites responsibly and no one will bother you, push the envelope and you’ll get a warning if you offend someone. Imagine you can do what you want, and you’ll find yourself looking for a new way to meet up with friends online. In this age of entitlement, think beyond your own personal sense of what is or isn’t acceptable, and behave with some decorum. Do that, and you won’t find your pages locked, deleted, or warnings arriving in your inbox.
The internet is the playground of millions of people every single minute of the day. Most on social sites don’t really make it their life’s work to see how far they can push the limits of “mass minded decency” but there are those who define that with a lot more risqué than most. Stop taking it personally if you’re shutdown, and take a closer look at why. It’s not really rocket science to know what goes beyond acceptable, so behave like an adult, not a horny teenager giggling over photos. There’s a time and a place for everything, and public pin boards, or Facebook pages are really not the place for naked lovers in the midst of sex.