Lately I've been reminded of what an ookie, dirty place the internet can be. Like, not all families, craft and good natured comments. Nothing really bad has happened, just some spam and flickr stuff, but it has genuinely upset me several times and prompted some fairly earnest discussions about putting photos on the internet et cetera. Again.
The first occurence was shortly after I joined Flickr when I received an email inviting me to view some private photos. I quickly realised that although it looked flickerish, it wasn't flickr mail and indeed came from another internet address. I doubled deleted it and ran my virus check just to be sure. This month though, one of my SPC portraits of me as a child, has been plagued with nasty sounding spam. In the form of serial comments with links to Italian p*rn sites. I deleted them and reported them as spam but they kept coming. This is unusual, I've never ever had spam before and had just assumed that typepad was good like that. In the end I closed comments on that particular post and it stopped. It bothers me no end that it was that particular picture that attracted the spam but I can't see where it came from. There were no suspicious google search strings. Early on, after a photo I called "littlegirlsindresses" kept coming up in google image searches, I started calling photos of people something obscure. (Except der, I called that one of me kidlet, must have forgot.) I know why people with p*rn sites leave link filled comments, it's to boost their ranking in search engines. My next step, if the last hadn't worked, would have been to ban their IP address because there's no way I want to be any part of trafficking p*rnography. I have considered changing the privacy settings so google doesn't search this blog. I've tried this on Mrs Washalot and after six months it's very effective. No traffic on that blog comes from google or any other search engines. But then, here on this blog there are some things I'd like people to be able to find. Like this one and this one, because every now and then I read search strings like "amniocentesis difficult decision" or "post natal psychosis help" and I know that someone out there might be desperate for information, or for the sharing of experience. To not be alone in all this, which is part of the point of writing and sharing. So if I have myself out there like that, I guess I have to accept that there will be occasions when pervy people hit on my blog. I just have to remember that it's a bit like being at a night club, most people are OK, but some will be creepy. And that it's OK, desirable even, to tell them to F off and that their behaviour is offensive. Or to just not engage and remove myself from their presence.
The other two occurences were Flickr related. A couple of weeks ago, someone favourited a Mrs Washalot photo. I almost didn't notice because I don't sign into that account very often. When I did and had a look at his other favourites, I realised that he has a cloth fetish and that some of his other photos are of bondage games. No nudity or age of consent issues, but misogynist and ookie all the same. He had set his content filter to restricted but I was still upset that here he was viewing my photos in that context. Then began a long conversation with myself and with others about not being able to control how others see our words and images. That something innocent or everyday to us can have quite a diffrent meaning to others. We have decided as a family that it's still OK to post photos of ourselves and Grace on our blogs and on Flickr. The general guide to whether a particular photo would be OK is whether it would be something you could see in public and whether the subject of the photo would be likely to really object. So I wouldn't post nuddy bath shots, but I would post a picture of breastfeeding if the context was right. Nor would I post really unflattering or undignified pictures. We live in a world full of images and I don't really see that our pictures are more precious, safe or unsafe, than pictures in a book, a newspaper or other general media. Indeed, I think there's something of enormous value to be gained from a medium that features images by and of ordinary people. And I just love the concept of Flickr as one of humanities photo albums. I find it endlessly fascinating. It just feels a bit grubby that someone might be taking a certain sort of pleasure in one of my pictures of nappies on the line.
So just as I was getting over that episode, I received some Flickr mail that asked if I had pictures of nude children for sale. I went and looked at the profile of the person it had come from and although some of his stuff is laddish, he's a professional photographer and I thought it a little unlikely that he would send me such a message. Nonetheless, I had just loaded some photos of Grace and I was freaking out. Big time. So I reported it to Flickr and considered making a report to the Australian Federal Police which one can do online here. Flickr got back to me quickly and assured me that it was malware or phishing, and did not come from the Flickr member. Which heartened me somewhat, but not totally.
One of the aspects of Flickr I find interesting is that you don't have any sense of where people are coming from to view your photos. There are no referrer stats. Indeed all you have is comments and a total number of page views, which doesn't take into account people browsing your photostream. That said, if someone marks a photo as a favourite or lists you as a contact, it's very obvious. And there is a facility for blocking other members which means they can't send you Flickr mail, favourite your photos or basically interact with you in any way through Flickr.
There's a whole other discussion I could go into about p*rnography, censorship, feminism and culture. P*rn is something I've come across in past lives; the gay scene, the party scene, with different types of housemates and I guess there's a time and a place. Basically if the material doesn't contain illegal and/or underage activites then I guess I've always thought that it's OK for adults to watch it in private or in restricted places. If that's their choice. Eventhough I don't think it's all that good for you. However, I feel now as an older woman, with a partner and as a parent that the ground has shifted a bit. There are lots of things I choose not to view (including certain ghoulish television), and I don't want it shoved in my face or where my child can access it easily.
I'll probaly block cloth man, I guess, but sheesh.