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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Don't Be the Butt of an Internet Joke

Have you or has anyone you know ever been in a viral video? 

Kind of a scary thought sometimes, considering most of today's viral videos' content includes embarrassing accidents or other idiocies at the main character's expense. 

I write as a warning to anyone who cares to read this to use the utmost care and discretion when posting content that includes anyone other than yourself. Recently my little brother was the subject of such embarrassment. One of his schoolmates was taking a video of some of his friends doing a goofy dance. Innocent, right? In nature, yes. But this video was taken in the high school boys' locker room, and while the video panned from right to left across the group of dancing boys, you get a great shot of my brother's bare derriere. Thankfully that is the only nakedness seen as he quickly covered himself with a towel (which, if you know anything about the tiny size of high school locker room towels, was still not much coverage). 

While I can be 99% sure that catching my brother's naked rear-end was not the kid's intention when recording the video, the damage was done. He had used the Vine app to take the video and had shared it on Twitter without any consent from my brother. Within hours, girls in his class were alerting him that his bare behind had been plastered on the internet and was being shared all over the school. My brother is a modest boy, so he was immediately embarrassed and furious. At this point, it was too late to stop it. Kids with smartphones showed their friends in the halls or on the bus ride home. High school kids these days do not go straight to the couch to watch TV anymore--they go straight to their computers and log on. There is no way to count how many people watched the video--it had entered the public domain. 

Over the weekend my family contacted Vine and Twitter to have the content removed. We can only hope this stopped the spread. But it is all too easy to download video content and to re-post it via another source. I have been unable to find the video again. While this is a good sign, I can never be 100% positive that my brother's butt is no longer web content. 

I know, I know, it's just a butt. But it's my 16-year-old little brother's butt. Be honest, do you want YOUR butt on the internet for the world to see? No matter how modest you are or aren't, my point is that this content was highly inappropriate. 

Again, I do not really believe that my brother's embarrassment was the intention of the kid taking the video. I emphasize that because I do believe that this kid did not even think twice about posting the video. He probably had no idea how many people it would reach. Since my brother does not have a Twitter or Vine account, perhaps he thought he would never see it and would never know. I only wish he had known how viral internet content can be. 

Every Tweet, every Facebook post, every Instagram photo, every Blog becomes public information the second you post it. I cannot even say that I have not been guilty of indiscretion when Tweeting, etc. I have to beg all of my friends and anyone who reads this to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE use discretion when posting ANYTHING to the internet, and PLEASE do everything you can to educate young users about how dangerous it can be. 

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