There is a Malay saying about fire being a friend when it’s small and a foe when it’s big. Anger is like fire – easily sparked, stoked and spread in this world through instant communications, especially through Facebook and Twitter. And once that fire is out – it can’t be easily extinguished, and even when extinguished, the ashes remain, the evidence is there.
The thing is, it seems that most of us nowadays are easily provoked and pushed to do something or form an opinion about an issue without knowing the whole facts. In such situation, the principle of natural justice, or Audi Alteram Partem (that no person should be condemned unheard) that requires time and consideration, usually slipped the mind. Maybe it’s the current trend with everything being super fast that it has become almost second nature for us to make judgments or decisions hastily and therefore we fail to take the time to ponder and question a statement, especially when the statement is made by friends or family.
A few months back, a travel blogger posted on Facebook and Twitter her anger and indignation towards Delta Airlines for the alleged ‘theft’ or usage of her photo. According to her it was used without her permission, she received neither credit nor recognition for it, nor was there any payment made to her.
The image was posted on Friday morning, 22 March, by Delta Airlines to promote their Atlanta to Lima flights and five hours later, the blogger who took the picture posted an accusatory statement on her Facebook that quickly gathered momentum after she urged others to help her to tell Delta to stop using her Llama photo. So the wildfire was sparked and spread by the photographer and torches were carried by others to distant lands, so to speak.
In the end, it was revealed that the photographer had actually signed an agreement with Getty Images who then sold the photo to Delta Airlines. I suppose she had forgotten that she has basically given Getty Images the rights to deal with her photos, and hence, all the uproar. I’m not sure whether she has properly apologised to Delta Airlines since then and whether Delta Airlines intend to sue her for her mistake and defamatory actions. I hope not because I believe she and all the others have learnt their lesson from the episode. Plus, Delta Airlines can afford to be generous – they were the victor.
For a better understanding of the upheavals that happened during those ‘heated’ few days, please read RedHuntTravel.Com and after that do read the comments too as there are some interesting ‘other side of the story’ as well.
Yes, there are reasonable explanations for such responses, I mean the anger and the motivation to spread the unverified statements via Facebook and Twitter. Mostly because some of them have actually had their photos stolen, and so felt the need to fight such wrongs. Some are being simply being supportive of a friend in need. And of course, most didn’t realise that the post they helped to spread were not completely true. But how many of them even bothered to get Delta Airlines’ side of the story?
As I mentioned earlier, I am sure all those involved have learnt their lesson. To me, this is the moral of the story:
- we should do our best to verify the information regarding controversial issues before making it public and better still, get the whole story from all the parties involved before publicly condemning others whether the condemned is a company, a public personality or an ordinary individual
- if you can’t verify the truth, better not post or share it on any social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc
- watch this video ‘Defamation And Twitter : A Practical Guide to Covering Your Ass’ by Jason Carmel.
Defamation is not a small thing. A few words can cause you years of headache. There are a few Facebook-related defamation suits brought in Malaysia. In 2011, the court has ordered a man to pay RM100,000 ($31,000) for defaming on Facebook a mechanics’ training centre. Thereafter, many more defamation suits have been won and lost.
As an aspiring photographer who has, admittedly, a looong way to go, I admit it is one of my dreams to submit my photos to a renowned firm such as Getty Images. So another lesson that photographers and aspiring photographers can glean from the above story is that it is absolutely important to remember or know which photos they’ve submitted and when there’s an issue, always strive to be professional and fair, write to the other party for clarification and give them time to properly respond before reacting publicly or make a public condemnation. Better still – refrain totally from personal public outburst, it’s unprofessional.
- DIY – Check Your Feelings Before You Post Anything on FB, And Think Hard Before Sharing an FB Post