Premium Content

Public Privacy Matters: Why it’s time to put a stop to social surveillance

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By: Abdullah Kamran – Public Privacy Matters: Why it’s time to put a stop to social surveillance

The author is CEO at and also works at Fiverr and Upwork.

Once upon a time, as a young and carefree individual, I would express myself through bold fashion choices. On one particular occasion, while dancing on the subway en route to a gay club, I was startled to discover a stranger surreptitiously capturing footage of me on their phone. Thankfully, the video never made its way online, but the experience left me feeling paranoid for months to come. This unfortunate incident brought to light the disturbing reality of how filming strangers for the sake of social media entertainment has become a pervasive and problematic trend. From the comedic spectacle of a public urinator to the voyeuristic thrill of a love-struck couple’s PDA, endless content is tempting. Yet, as the line between playful teasing and digital harassment becomes increasingly blurred, it’s crucial to question the ethics and impact of this behaviour.

Recently, a man named Mark joe, a 64-year-old retiree, was captured on camera exuberantly dancing at a famous London nightclub. Unfortunately, the video was shared online with a caption to mock and ridicule him. Not only did the post elicit a wave of cruel and dismissive comments, but it also sparked a torrent of ageist and homophobic remarks. According to an interview with Vice, Mr Mark was deeply affected by the experience, saying his heart sank upon seeing tweets about himself. This unfortunate incident serves as a poignant reminder of the dangers of filming strangers for the sake of social media entertainment and the hurtful impact it can have on those who become the subject of such content.

As members of society, it is understood that we do not have a legally guaranteed right to complete privacy while in public spaces. However, this does not mean we should abandon the principles of respect and dignity when interacting with others. Unfortunately, in recent times, there has been a proliferation of individuals who are willing to sacrifice the privacy of others in the pursuit of viral fame and internet notoriety. This blatant disregard for personal boundaries is a disheartening trend that undermines basic social norms and erodes the unspoken code of conduct that once governed our interactions.

The case of Mark Joe illustrates the cruel nature of filming strangers for social media entertainment. However, it is essential to acknowledge that not everyone perceives this behavior as wrong. With the advent of smartphones equipped with high-quality cameras and instant sharing capabilities, it has become increasingly easy to record and disseminate content without a second thought. This lack of active consideration can lead to a culture of antisocial behaviour where the policing of fun, spontaneity, and self-expression becomes the norm. It is a disciplinary mechanism that enforces conformity and punishes those who dare to deviate from the status quo.

Recording strangers for social media entertainment is not always as impromptu as one might think. In the age of YouTube and TikTok, it has become increasingly common for individuals to create and curate setups to film unsuspecting strangers as supporting characters in their videos. This practice, reminiscent of Candid Camera for Generation Z, involves pranking or misleading strangers to create viral content. While the intent behind these pranks may not always be malicious, the feelings of degradation and violation experienced by strangers can be similar to those felt in spontaneous recording situations. Furthermore, the individuals behind these setups may also monetize the content, further exacerbating the harm caused.

When strangers are recorded and shared online for entertainment, it is essential to consider the potential consequences of this behavior. For example, few of the viewers who negatively commented online seemed to take into account the fact that the person in the footage could have been a minor. Additionally, the intense scrutiny of multiple recording devices can be overwhelming for the subject, leading to defensive and escalated behavior.

It is also worth questioning the motivations behind this filming and sharing. Is it truly in the public interest to share footage of someone behaving disrespectfully rather than committing a violent or intolerant act? Furthermore, it is essential to consider the impact of recording devices on social interactions and how they can create a culture of ridicule and humiliation.

While it is unlikely and undesirable to beef up privacy laws to prevent the filming of strangers in public, it is possible to change the social and cultural attitudes towards this behaviour. Instead of participating in the ridicule and humiliation of others, we can respond with grace and empathy and remind ourselves to mind our own business. The use of mobile recording devices has empowered us in many ways, but it is essential that we use this power responsibly and with consideration for the well-being of others.

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Videos