Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, this week called for “human decency” and “digital etiquette” after a subscriber of hers shared a family photo – mistakenly assumed to be public – on Twitter. CNET reports that one of Zuckerberg’s sisters’ friends shared the image because she found it to be profoundly fascinating.
The image shows members of the Zuckerberg family, including Mark, in a kitchen, reacting to the new Facebook iOS Poke application. The image was posted to Twitter by VoxMedia Director of Marketing and Projects, Callie Schweitzer.
Enraged after seeing the image was public Zuckerberg had a Twitter conversation with Schweitzer, during the course of which Schweitzer explained that she thought the image was public, since she is one of Zuckerberg’s Facebook subscribers. As it turned out, the image wasn’t public and Schweitzer is actually a friend of Randi Zuckerberg’s sister. Schweitzer later apologized, which Zuckerberg accepted.
She later tweeted, “Digital etiquette: always ask permission before posting a friend’s photo publicly. It’s not about privacy settings, it’s about human decency.”
Journalists and content professionals will be aware that sharing private photos, even mistakenly, can reflect negatively on the publisher or writer and can potentially have legal implications. However, when an image is shared on the web publicly and it is something rare – like an insight into the Zuckerberg’s family – it is more than likely to go viral.
Editor-in-Chief of Readwrite Dan Lyons wrote a satirical piece describing what Facebook essentially is and concluded with “What kind of world are we living in when just because you post something on a website someone else can just take your stuff and do things with it? Oh wait.”
Journalists, content professionals and public figures need to strike a balance when using or posting public images to social media. On one part it is up to the professional to judge whether the digital media item is appropriate for publication and newsworthy. However, users are also public figures, like the Zuckerbergs, should exercise caution when sharing private media on Facebook or Twitter.
Photosource: Wikimedia Commons.