Monday, 6 February, 2023

Hazard of Creating Online Contents

Nusrat Jahan Nishat

The current technological advancement around the world is now able to solve huge problems once considered impossible but is incapable of figuring out who holds evil thoughts for whom. Keri Lynn Engel referred in her write-up titled “How Blogging Puts You at Risk (and How to Safeguard Your Privacy)” that “Every action we take online is gathered, analysed, bought, and exploited every day”. Daily blogging and vlogging are now a trend that is happily followed by both teenagers, and adults, even celebrities and their kids. Showing off their every single day as thrilled, elated, and “damn no problem in life at all” to other social media users (where they don’t know most of them) not only creates insecurity and inferiority among the viewers but also attracts the sight of many crimes. When the whole world is standing in the competition for survival, it is easy to get targeted by others for personal reasons when they can see every corner of their home and office. This not only invites personal enmity but also threatens reputation. Hackers can often use the information provided on blogs and vlogs to leverage access to bloggers’ personal accounts and accommodations. When someone over the social platforms shows their schedule of the day (such as when they wake up, when they go out, which route they take, what kind of transportations they use, who are their everyday companions, and family members, where they do their groceries, where and how they spent their leisure, and when they return home) it becomes easy to stalk them in order to the commission of any serious crime.

 Blogging generally refers to regular opinions of an individual or a group in writing on their own website or page whereas vlogging is more like video blogging. The risk of getting swamped with junk mail, spam calls, and mostly cyberbullying is indescribable while making videos and uploading daily stuff over social media. Bloggers and vloggers are liable for the best interest of their own as well as for the people and properties they include in their content. The bloggers are often seen using a nickname or a fake name to secure their privacy, however, it provides no good as in their content they introduce themselves and their family members with their actual identity, thus risking everyone’s security. One may assume they have a limited or a small audience in their profile under their control, nonetheless, with technological advancement collecting information through search engines is not rocket science anymore. Bloggers and vloggers need to be more careful in expressing their feelings, and excess information about their important documents and personal belongings on social platforms.

The content creators over social media are not only welcoming the commission of crimes towards them but also ending up committing crimes infringing laws. Sandra Baron, Executive Director, Media Law Resource Centre, New York connoted that “It was probably inevitable, but we have seen a steady growth in litigation over the content on the Internet”. For instance, a 33-year-old public hospital employee, Roy Ngerng, 2014, stated in his blog post “PM Lee Hsien was guilty of criminal misappropriation of the monies paid by Singaporeans”. As a consequence he was fired from his job, tried for defamation, and was ordered to pay compensation. No doubt everyone has their right to freedom of speech, freedom of information, publication and expression, and freedom of content creation but it should be remembered that these are not absolute rights and so they can be legally tried for their words or contents if these hurt or curtail others feelings or rights in any way. Content creators can further face legal obligations like libel, copyright violations, and disclaimers. In the case, Peter Obe vs. Grapevine Communications, the Court held that publishing Plaintiff’s photograph by Defendant in his book without “Authorization or License” is Plaintiff’s copyright violation.

Now if we particularly focus on vlogging, the common vlogs seen are family vlogs. Vloggers feel comfortable uploading videos of their cooking, shopping, working, and getting dressed for functions, in other words, everything they do from waking up to falling asleep at night again. They become online celebrities and their “everydayness” is what attracts the viewers. These people are mostly friendly and try to provide contents relating to motivation, relationships, study, handling depression, and so on while they create their daily vlogs. However, these family vlogs are more dangerous in real life. Other than captivating the eyes of the viewers, they fall victim to themselves. One real-life instance is mention-worthy in this case. A family vlog channel known as FamilyFive was run on YouTube where the parents used to make pranks with their children with allurement for getting views and money, which often caused their children to suffer mentally. The mother stopped the foods and drinks of these two children when they showed indifference towards making videos. As a result, the parents were denied the custody of their children, and their channel was shut down.

The biggest loophole in creating and uploading family videos is the “Free Consent of the Family Members”. Vloggers are equally liable to seek explicit permission and protect the privacy of their family members, their belongings, and their properties from being broadcasted and publicized as they are liable for any stranger. Broadcasting their children’s physical appearances, growth, routine, eating habits, and educational institutions make them an open floor for internet users to comment on and judge them. This not only violates their legal and moral rights but is capable to traumatize them mentally gradually. The friendly content then turns out to be toxic for the family members and others as well. It is noteworthy that we live in a world where pedophiles exist. Aren’t the vloggers putting their children at the target of pedophiles?  Every blogger and vlogger will be tried by the respective laws of their own countries for violating any laws and regulations through their work. Nonetheless, the situation must be dealt with morally and cautiously first. It is a dire necessity to raise voices and awareness against situations where a simple blog or vlog can destroy the peace and rights of any other person including their own families. A Mandatory code of ethics and regulations for creating content over social media must be formulated at the earliest.


The writer is a Social Advocacy Manager, ANTAR, Dhaka