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The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

The Student News Site of Hendrick Hudson

The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

The Student News Site of Hendrick Hudson

The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

New Trend Alert: Monetizing Social Media While Being Filmed Without Your Consent

New+Trend+Alert%3A+Monetizing+Social+Media+While+Being+Filmed+Without+Your+Consent
Photo Credit: Kacie Burns

Smartphones have drastically changed our societal norms within the last decade. Cameras are in virtually everyone’s pocket and anything can be filmed for content. Cute outfits are an Instagram post and a fun outing with friends can be a TikTok. In a post-Snowden world, privacy—more importantly internet privacy—should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Yet, filming others for content has become scarily popular on social media, sweeping our world as an unforeseen challenge to our increasingly digital lives.

Short form content and internet monetization has opened the door for anyone to be successful on the internet. Content has grown shorter and more digestible: TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Youtube Shorts all specialize in 1-2 minute videos of quick story times, makeup tutorials, dances, and trendy challenges. This quick, seemingly  endless content has provided companies with a new platform for advertising and sales. 

Branded content brings in huge amounts of revenue for social media companies and platform users. With over 1 billion users, TikTok has opened an untapped market for brands to target Gen Z. The average brand deal cost on the TikTok platform is $3,514, but this price also depends on audience size. The more followers you have, the more money you can earn. And making content on TikTok is much easier and less expensive than Youtube. Instead of needing a Canon or Nikon and fancy editing software, TikToks can be filmed and posted in seconds all using a smartphone. This accessibility opens the door for endless creativity and earnings opportunities for many; however, it also has created a breeding ground for lazy content. 

IZEA Platform Data. “Cost Per Post by Platform.” IZEA. March 6, 2023. https://izea.com/resources/insights/2023-state-of-influencer-earnings/

A lot of content filmed for social media platforms comes from public locations. Anything from pranks to filming yourself working out to making people into “main characters,” cameras are everywhere and people are bound to be recorded without them knowing or consenting. 

Maree, a woman in Melbourne, was filmed being given flowers by a stranger named Harrison Pawluk. He posted the video and it went viral with 57 million views and 10.9 million likes. Although posted to be a random act of kindness, Maree said that “[h]e interrupted my quiet time, filmed and uploaded a video without my consent, turning it into something it wasn’t, and I feel like he is making quite a lot of money through it” in an interview with ABC Radio Melbourne. She also notes there’s a patronizing assumption in believing that “women, especially older women, will be thrilled by some random stranger giving them flowers.”

This destruction of privacy is driven by a need to make content, content that has the chance of going viral, starting a new trend, or earning cash. Part of this is guided by self-centered content and the confidence that comes along with it. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with recording an outfit check or snapping a selfie, but your content shouldn’t rely on annoying and filming strangers. Hidden-camera pranks are a perfect example; half the time they aren’t “pranks” but more just people being menaces for views, and the ones being pranked don’t know if they’ll end up going viral on TikTok against their will. Other videos are just of people eating alone to create “sympathy bait” or to make jokes of peoples’ appearances. 

Yes, everyone is basically recorded on CCTV everywhere they go, but videos for TikTok open people to the cruel scrutiny of the internet nor do these videos serve any real purpose other than mindless content. 

Likes and views can be great for the poster, but TikTok comment sections can be cruel, polarizing, and devoid of critical-thinking for those in the videos. Personal boundaries on the internet have only kept blurring in recent years with the rise of stan-culture and echo chambers, causing more extreme behavior. When people feel strongly about something on TikTok, they’ll make their voices heard. And for people with social anxiety, the added pressure of constantly being filmed and looked at only makes life harder. Also, some people just like their privacy; not everyone likes having their business posted on the internet. Whether or not to have a social media or internet presence should be a personal choice that’s respected by everyone. 

Having cameras readily on hand does have its benefits: capturing fun moments and solidifying memories. But also, the ability to record cops, injustices and bigotry allows people to be called for their actions and can protect the person recording from further harm. Yet, we still need to ask ourselves if what we are filming and posting doesn’t put anyone who couldn’t consent to being filmed at risk. If you already have the confidence to bother people in public, then you should have the confidence to ask for consent. 

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About the Contributor
Kacie Burns, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Kacie is a Senior at Hen Hud and this is her fourth year on The Anchor. For the paper, she does the layout, artwork, and writes. This year, she is the Arts & Entertainment Editor and Head of Layout. Outside of school, she loves to listen to music (Fiona Apple, The Cure, and The Smiths), take film photos, and read classic literature. She doesn’t play any sports, but does play the violin in the school’s orchestra and loves to draw and paint. 
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