Topic 4 – Give me back my pictures!

In one of my previous blog posts, I have mentioned ‘Catfish’ and how this was one of the many negatives of having multiple online identities. For those who perhaps did not see this post, the video below is a quick overview of ‘Catfish’.

I think it is fair to say that ‘catfishing’ is an increasingly common issue occurring online. However, the view which is most commonly portrayed is that of the person who has been ‘catfished’. But, what is it really like for the people whose identity is being stolen?

Can you imagine if someone took everything you posted online, whether it be pictures of you, your family and friends and passed it off as their own? Well, for Ruth Palmer this was a very real problem. Furthermore, if taking someones pictures isn’t bad enough imagine how she felt when someone literally re-wrote her life for everyone to see and portrayed her as a completely different person. I personally cannot think of anything worse. Kelly McCarthy and Jon Will Chambers are also examples of people who have had their pictures taken and used to seek out online relationships. I have previously mentioned that I am currently looking for a placement this year and Jobvite’s statistics show that recruiters use social media to check out applicants before offering them a position. If someone was to take my pictures and use them for this purpose, it could potentially jeopardise my chance of securing a placement, especially if the life they were creating was deemed unprofessional.

However, people’s photos can also be taken for different purposes e.g. artist Richard prince made a hefty amount of money ($90,000 per picture) from taking people’s Instagram pictures without asking and blowing the pictures up to put in an exhibition. There are many stories of people taking credit for photographs that don’t belong to them and trying to pass them off as their own, but before reading the article on Richard prince I had never heard of someone taking people’s Instagram photos to display as an art piece.

Both taking someone’s personal pictures to pretend to be someone else and using other people’s photos in order to make money are questionable. Below I have made a mind map to summarise ethics in regards to this topic.


Is it so wrong to take someone else’s pictures and pass them off as your own? The simple answer to this is YES, it is completely unethical to take someones pictures and pass them off as your own. Whether it be pictures of the person, their friends or even an artistic picture they have taken themselves, they belong to that person and should not be used without permission or recognition.


Battersby, M. (2015) Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90, 000. Available at: (Accessed: 22 November 2016).
Chambers, J.W. (2016) Experience: My face was stolen online. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2016).
Jobvite (2014) Social recruiting survey. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2016).
Kleinman, Z. (2015) Who’s that girl? The curious case of Leah Palmer. Available at: (Accessed: 21 November 2016).
McCarthy, K. (2014) Someone used my photo to create A fake tinder account, and it could happen to you. Available at: (Accessed: 21 November 2016).
Rogers, K. (2013) Instagram users begin fightback against stolen photos. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2016).
The List Show TV (2013) What’s trending: What is ‘catfishing’ and is it here to stay? Available at: (Accessed: 22 November 2016).
Sources used for mind map
BBC (2009) Ethics – introduction to ethics: Ethics: A general introduction. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2016).
Jason, Steffan, Sarah and Garrett (no date) Identity Theft Awareness – Ethical issues. Available at: (Accessed: 21 November 2016).
Oxford Dictionaries (no date) Ethics. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2016).
Santa Clara (2016) What is ethics? Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2016).
Featured Image created on: Wordl

4 thoughts on “Topic 4 – Give me back my pictures!

  1. Hi Allie,

    I found the topic you chose extremely interesting and personal to me, as someone has used my photos to catfish another and I only found this out as the victim went through a lot of trouble to contact me. It was a traumatic experience that makes you question your online safety. I too make the point that if your identity is stolen they have the power to ruin your identity, and as we all know it takes ages to build a reputation and moments to ruin one. Do you suggest any ways to prevent this?

    I like your use of media, you save a lot of words with your mind map and video. Your passion for your distaste for stealing someone’s pictures really comes through your writing, and I completely agree; it is sad the internet has brought upon so many new issues for society.



    • Hi Tiffany,

      I’m sorry to hear someone has used you photos to catfish someone else!

      In terms of preventing your online reputation from being damaged I would have to say keeping privacy settings across all social media strict (unless it is something you want people to see). I would also suggest that you only add people you know and be careful what you say online. Other than that I am not really sure what to suggest as it is not something I have had to personally deal with and am not quite sure what I would do in that situation! But, I do know I wouldn’t be very happy about it.



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