OPINION: ‘InstaFeet’ violates privacy law
By Elis Reyes-Sanchez
Bridge Staff Intern
Published Thursday, March 17, 2022
When I scrolled through the TAMIU Student Network Facebook page, I saw a post asking if anyone knew there was a “bathroom foot pic” account on Instagram. I couldn’t help myself and went to check out the page.
At first, I thought it was kind of funny and thought it was a spoof page, as many pictures on the account seemed staged.
I saw a picture of bare feet, with no socks or shoes, doing what I can only assume, their business. My initial thought, “Who does that?”
You have another picture of someone with just one shoe on, and another one pointing down directly at their feet. Those pictures seemed staged.
However, there were many that did not look staged, and those got me thinking, “Why are they taking pictures of feet?” It had to be a man because for the moment they all seem like men’s feet.
There were some who claimed they recognized some shoes to be the shoes of one of their professors.
And in true social media fashion, those pictures ended up getting deleted. What was the thought behind deleting those pictures?
No picture, no crime?
But there is a crime. Whoever posted and whoever sent those pictures to the administrator of the page robbed those students and professors of their privacy, or in better terms: it’s invasion of privacy.
As one student wrote on the Student Network Facebook page, “I don’t think this is nice at all. If it were women we’d be talking about, this would be a BIG deal. Men should receive the same respect.”
To make matters worse, they attempted to recruit ladies to take pictures of feet in the women’s bathroom. One eager volunteer replied, “I gotchu” by emi_luca_la_peluca.
So far, they lacked success in uploading pictures from the lady’s bathroom. However, it does not mean they aren’t trying, these images just haven’t reached the page yet.
The Facebook post received a lot of laughs, but there were still many concerns about privacy. Now students and faculty, of any gender, may feel uncomfortable using the school’s facilities.
Someone broke that trust.
Students come to campus with a sense of security. As a student, we already have so much stress trying to study for exams, finish our assignments, write essays and now we have to add to our stress and watch our feet as we use the bathroom.
What is unfortunate is that for the moment, we do not know who took part in the Instagram page or what reason influenced them to upload pictures of random feet using the bathroom stalls.
We can only report the page with the hope it gets suspended and shut down, but it does not guarantee they will not open another page and continue.
I can only wonder, how is TAMIU going to react to it? Are University officials aware of the situation and what precautions will they take?
For the moment, we can only be careful and watch our feet.
[Editor’s note: According to an article about the publication of private facts on the Minc Law website minclaw.com: “Publication of Private Facts refers to information about someone’s personal life that was not revealed to the public, that is not a legitimate public concern, and the publication is … offensive to a reasonable person. For example, writing about a person’s disease status, sexual orientation, marital problems, or financial troubles could lead to liability for publication of private facts. This civil tort is also referred to as ‘intrusion upon seclusion’ and ‘invasion of privacy.’”
“A plaintiff must generally establish the following four elements to have a case for publication of private facts:
• Public Disclosure: The disclosure of facts must be public. The defendant must “give publicity” to the facts in dispute. [This applies to social media posts, websites, as well as legacy media outlets.]
• Private Fact: The facts disclosed must be private, and not open to the public. [In a bathroom, people have an expectation of privacy.]
• Offensive to a Reasonable Person: The publication of the private facts in question must be offensive to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities. [Some may find this offensive, as the social media responses note.]
• Newsworthy: The facts disclosed cannot be newsworthy. To be newsworthy is to discuss a matter of legitimate public concern. [In and of themselves, there is nothing newsworthy about pictures of bathroom feet.]”]