So you want to photograph that woman eating on the train…

…maybe don’t.

In the Daily Beast, I wrote about my problems with this and other creepy groups and the mindset behind it – as well as the larger problems of our unethical use of the powerful tools we use everyday.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    I suppose one solution would be if, every time you see someone snapping a picture of someone else without their consent, you take that person’s picture and start a new Tumbler called “People who take pictures of other people without their consent.” Not the best solution, but it might be a start.

  2. says

    In Germany there is something called “right to your own picture”. It simply means that nobody can take a picture of you as identifiably you*, let alone publish it without your consent.
    That law was created long before the internet days, but it becomes a better law every day…

    *This does not apply to, say, taking a picture of the Cathedral in Cologne and having to ask every single person walking past it for their consent.

  3. Menyambal says

    This problem isn’t new. Some big magazine, back around 1950 or so, published the work of an “artist” who took photos without consent. What he did was set up a fake mirror in some public place, and take photos through the mirror of people checking their make-up and such. He said that they were in public, after all, so no privacy was violated, so even that argument is old.

    There is no justification for taking this kind of photo. Posting a photo with time, place and train number is nothing but stalkerish. Commenting on the person in a sexual and/or derogatory way is wrong. The site should shut down and shut up.

  4. Kevin Kehres says

    In the US, there is no legal right to privacy (ie, to not be photographed) when you go out in public. This is why paparazzi are able to make comfortable livings taking unflattering photographs of celebrities.

    Seems to me that this particular activity is a fetish (like taking upskirt photos). The mere act of watching a woman eat causes arousal (don’t know, but maybe “while in public transportation” might also be a specific locus of that fetish). Probably more benign than some fetishes (like taking upskirt photos, which is illegal, even in Massachusetts, though only recently). Although I wonder why someone with that fetish would openly announce it by friending a Facebook page dedicated to it.

    In order to stop it in the US, you’d have to change the Constitution. Good luck with that. Naming and shaming might be a bit more non-futile. Though I think it’s more likely to cause backlash. People don’t easily quit their fetishes.

    And here we’re at the intersection of “just because it’s legal” and “that doesn’t make it right”. Sucks, but that’s the best we can do.

    And yes, with a magic wand, we could stop people from objectifying other people and life would be better. Too bad we don’t have a magic wand.

  5. Ysidro says

    Now I’m wondering about taking pictures in public of people taking pictures of people in public. I bet the photographed photographers would get upset.

  6. Schlumbumbi says

    @2 Giliell — Short correction on this one for the laws in Germany

    Everyone is allowed to take pictures of you while in public. Your permission is only required for publication (and depends on several circumstances, which are not important here).

  7. Copyleft says

    On the up side, the fact that everyone is now carrying a camera on them at all times has resulted in the final death of all those stupid UFO and Bigfoot sightings.