MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Photo creeping… yeah or nah?

In class I was assigned the topic of pictures in regards to social media to research for the class.

So let’s talk images.

Pictures are a significant aspect of online communicating. (For all of us with Facebook accounts, when was the last time you “creeped” someone’s photo album?) Images are how we brand our online reputation. As in Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison’s Social Networks Sites: Definion, History and Scholarship, “Profiles are unique pages where one can “type oneself into being” (Sundén, 2003, p. 3). On social networking site profiles, people use descriptions and images to show who they are, whether that translates into their real life persona or not. Boyd and Ellison write about profiles being authentic and Fakesters,  a profile is never a true representation of a user’s true self. The profile is a snapshot of what the user wants their network to see as their true self.

Their are various social networking sites that are picture-based web sites, Flickr and SmugMug are two popular sites. Flickr is a free photo management web site that allows you to edit, categorize, share and create photo-based products. SmugMug is a site to manage photos in a professional manner. The fee-based web site allows professional photographers or the serious amateur display and share photos for friends, families or clients.

Now with camera phones, images are not limited to computer use. Images can be uploaded from anywhere at anytime.  This new dimension to online pictures dips into privacy and ethics issues. Anyone could be featured on photo-sharing web sites without their permission. Along with images used without permission, their is a thin line between pictures that are appropriate for online sharing and not. Many users do not realize the implications other people could base their options of that person from the images they decide to display on their profile.

To wrap this up, their are great photo opportunities online. Fabulous web sites for professionals to display their portfolios to clients and for the average joe to share photos with friends and families. However remember to monitor what pictures you do share with the world. You never know when that image of you out drinking could sway that employer or friend of a friend to pass judgement on you.




Boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11.


May 16, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I find it very interesting how people try to use social networking sites like facebook to portray an image of themselves that isn’t really true to reality. I think to some degree we are all guilty of this. This would make for a fascinating study in psychology. Do we truly believe that the images we use in our profiles accurately display who we are, or do they display how we would like the world to see us? If you’re a member of facebook, you know exactly what I’m talking about. How many times have you visited a friend’s page and thought to yourself “wow, this looks nothing like him or her”?
    It is also interesting how upset some people can get when they are tagged in photos. The reason they normally get upset is because the photo does not reflect the image of themselves that they would like the world to see. Control of their image has been lost.
    Social networking sites can have many benefits. They are a great communication tool for developing or maintaining relationships. But, as Jen mentioned, once scandalous photos are put up on these types of sites, they can be viewed by nearly anyone, including current or potential employers. When it comes to posting photos or even posing in photos by others, SNSs have forced us to think twice about our actions.

    Comment by justinmacneill1 | May 16, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hey Jenn,

    I think you bring up an excellent point about what should and shouldn’t be shared in terms of images, especially on social media sights such as Facebook.

    Facebook is no longer something just our friends use – our employers and future employers are now on it too! – and we’re forced to make decisions that neither we, nor our parents, nor our grandparents, have had to make before.

    Before the time of digital cameras and posting pictures online, the only way people shared pictures was face to face – showing a friend a photo album, or developing your roll of film and bringing it to school to show your classmates. There was a lot more control over how and when the pictures were shared – sites like Facebook remove this. While on one hand, it’s fun to be able to access the pictures from the great party you attended on the weekend, on the other hand, once you post them, you have no control (other than who you decide to add to your friends list) over who sees them and under what circumstances.

    I encountered this earlier this year before my winter co-op when my future co-op employer tried to add me on Facebook. Until then, I had used Facebook personally only – and being like most university students, had some pictures up of myself at parties, on pub crawls, and the like. I was faced with a dilemma – do I add my employer, give them free reign to see all of my pictures (and thus make an assumption before actually getting to know me about what I’m like), or do I not add them and make it seem like I have something to hide?

    As aspiring PR professionals, I think this is something we need to visit and be aware of – reputation means a lot, especially in a field like ours.

    Comment by hawklet | May 17, 2009 | Reply

  3. Picture browsing is probably the number 1 thing i do online, as well as YouTube. I personally use Facebook as my primary tool to share pictures, but i also have a Photobucket and Flicker account. These are great tools to use at your leisure and to share with friends, however, like any other social media tool there is almost too much freedom when it comes to photo uploading. Anyone can upload anything of anyone at anytime, and while great things can come from this, there negative implications that can come of this.

    I have been using Facebook since 2005, and when it finally caught on and my parents signed up, I then realized that i needed to start monitoring what I was putting on Facebook. There is also the fact that future employers will check out your Facebook site to get an impression of who you are based on your online photos. In my personal opinion, I feel like projecting a “real” image of who you are is far more liberating then projecting an image that isn’t true to who you are. In this day and age its about how you do this that matters. For me, I will continue to upload photos of my nights out and share them with my friends, who are my age, and who I know will not judge me for it. However when it comes to adding family and employers to my Facebook, I know now to be much more careful and use privacy settings so my professional or “family” image isn’t tarnished.

    I think the key thing is to know your photo uploading tool inside and out before putting your pictures out there. Facebook`s privacy settings for example enable people to control who sees what albums, etc. With that in mind, if you know how to use your tool photo sharing can be just as much fun as it was before our parents were on Facebook.

    Comment by sarahmacl | May 17, 2009 | Reply

  4. This was a really interesting post. I upload a lot of pictures to various social media sites but had never really thought about why or if I should be doing it.

    I really like the quote from Boys and Ellison. “The profile is a snapshot of what the user wants their network to see as their true self.” I had never thought of an online profile this way, but it makes so much sense.

    Social networking sites like Flickr and Facebook really have no boundaries, and when you upload a picture you really need to be aware that it’s probably going to be viewed by more than just your network or friend list, once you put something online it’s pretty much fair game. The statement at the end of your blog about monitoring pictures really got me thinking about what I am putting out there and what kind of image that might be projecting about me and my life.

    Social networking sites are great for keeping people connected, but they also offer millions of people access to so many details of your life. We really do need to stop and think about what we’re putting out there.

    Comment by Nicole V | May 17, 2009 | Reply

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