Young people give their experiences of online consent.
Childnet, a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, recently launched a brand new range of resources as part of the ‘Step Up, Speak Up’ toolkit, these resources were shaped by young people and look at the issue of peer based online sexual harassment. The deSHAME Youth Advisory Board is made up of 10 young people from across the UK who have a passion for making the online world a safe and positive space, free from online sexual harassment.
Safer Internet Day 2019 centred around the theme of consent online, so we asked the Youth Advisory Board for their experiences of online consent, and why they thought education around this was important.
Ishaa, 16 years old, Manchester
A friend of mine has previously shared stuff without permission. In this day and age, it's nearly expected, so our attitude is to not really blame the person for sharing it, even though it's wrong to do so. It can be something very minor, like putting up a photo of a friend and saying you miss them. But with social media, things are often misconstrued. That friend might feel touched at the post, thinking it symbolises the friendship. Another friend may get annoyed, as it could be an embarrassing photo that they didn't want going public. You can always ask the friend to take it down, but that doesn't stop people screenshotting and sharing it further.
When my friend did this, I felt sorry for her really. It's an easy mistake to make, and people assume that if you're friends, you won't mind photos being shared.
At what point do we draw the line? Do we ask our friends for permission every time we post a specific photo, or do we assume that friendship dictates the rules of our ‘gram game?
Understandably, it can be VERY difficult to say no to someone posting your photo. You feel like the odd one out, while everyone else doesn't seem to have an issue with it. At the end of the day, it's your decision and yours alone. Sadly, a lot of people don't have the confidence to say no, which is where issues start to rise.
Harry, 16 years old, Hampshire
Personally, my parents have not shared anything about me without my permission. However, they have shared content which includes myself. For example, my mum shared a video of my attempts to ice skate and, well, my attempts went amiss as I fell over onto the ice. I was a lot younger in the video than I am now and I have no problem about it being online. In fact, I find it funny. However, this definitely wouldn’t be the case for all young people.
When it comes to friends sharing things about someone online, I think that if there are any doubts that they may not want it online, you should definitely check with them first. You are also equally responsible for thinking about, for example, if a group photo is taking place, whether you want to be in it as it is most likely going to be shared online.
It can be difficult to say no to a friend posting something about/including you. This is because there’s a conflict in opinion. One of you wants it to be published and the other doesn’t. It is two-fold. If you know that (let’s use our example earlier) you don’t want to be in a photo that will be shared, just simply don’t be in the photo. It is also the friend’s responsibility to make sure that they don’t force you into a photo. To be completely satisfied, it’s worth checking with the friend to make sure they’re comfortable with what you’re going to post, if you think it may cause embarrassment or if you think it may not be wanted online.
Charlie, 15 years old, Nottingham
I’ve had past experiences, where my friends have posted pictures of my friends out together. This has then caused a backlash of bullying. My friend didn’t feel comfortable asking for this post to be taken down because they felt like a spoil sport . I know my friend never intended for the bullying that occurred and that they never would have imagined this happening either.
Talking about consent online is key, it makes people take a step back and think about being in the other person’s shoes on how they would feel if a video or image of them was shared on social media.
I think that it is important to bring the family together on this subject and give them the information needed so that they know what consent is and when to ask for it. This helps the family build a comfortable space where they can discuss the picture someone wants to put up or the pictures that are already up. For example, asking a parent to take down a photo that the child isn’t comfortable having on social media for many people to see.