Things to consider before video recording other people and posting to social media

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

You might care about this article if:

  • You are a social media user
  • You are a public or quasi-public person
  • You see a lot of things that are potentially worth sharing

I’m all for sharing stories through multiple mediums but there are things to consider before recording other people without their knowledge.

And there has been a perceived increase in videos posted to social media of incidents that are not right. 

Example: When something happens on airplanes, people pull out their phones and shoot video. When people see lawenforcement do things that might not be right, they pull out their phones and record. At other events, people see things that are outrageous or just plain wrong, they pull out their phones and shoot video.

Of course the next step often is to post those videos to our social media channels.

And I appreciate when people document unjust behaviors. Video really helps us understand what happened and it’s above “his word against her word.”

But video can be taken out of context as well. What happened before and what happened after the recording began or ended? And sometimes the angle of the video matters as well.

And there are also consequences or potential positive payoffs for the person or persons recording the video. Those are the things we need to consider before we record other people’s stories in public or even private.

Things to consider:

  • Are we recording something unjust?
  • What’s our intent behind the recording?
  • Even though most videos will not go viral, some do. Are we OK with that  level of public attention once we hit publish?
  • Will we get in trouble for recording? And if there’s a chance is it worth it?

And some locations you might not have the right to record an incident. For example, on airplanes contractually passengers are not allowed to record. Depending on the severity of an incident people might be OK living with the consequences a potentially illegal recording might lead to.

For example, if an airline bans a passenger for exposing a really negative and wrong incident, the negative press could  outweigh the ban for the airline company. But it could also inconvenience the traveler enough to discourage further recordings.

It’s much easier to decide whether or not to roll when it only involves ourselves. For example, something happened to me and here is my video of the story. 

But as soon as it involves other people they may or may not be OK with being recorded.

And once stories and videos spread across the net and even global there could be a lot of attention to the person who recorded it.

Some of the attention will be negative and some of the attention will be positive. Some of it will be justified and some of it will not be justified.

And it can get very frustrating when  uninformed opinions are thrown the person’s way. The media might also want to talk to you.

There could end up being lawsuits. 

I’m thankful to the rights we have in the United States to record  events. 

But nonetheless it is something to think about. The positives of recording something might very well outweigh any potential-real or perceived – negative outcomes.  But it also could be the opposite.

I applaud the people who video record things for the greater good. Telling our stories in a way that allows us to see the facts-even if it’s just some of the facts-allows us to fix things that need to be fixed and move forward as organizations, customers and community members as a whole.