Stalking, Oops I Mean Research, Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

Disclaimer: every so often I search my name in Google. You know, just to see what comes up and to make sure another Marissa Lepor who posts pictures of herself drinking and smoking and doing drugs, etc. does not exist. It's a pretty standard and quick procedure. But, when Facebook implements its recently revealed "graph search," which will allow one to search people or photos by categories including activity and/or location, my simple periodic check will become a lot easier. Well, that's great for my periodic checks, but do I really want others to find me on the Internet with such ease?

It's not only about protecting my "reputation," it's also just about protecting my privacy. Maybe I do not want someone to have the ability to track my every activity, meal, and vacation. As long as I'm on Facebook, it seems to get harder and harder to control what information goes public and what information stays private. Now, if one of my friends or I post a picture of me at a specific hotel or restaurant, it becomes easier for strangers to find me. I know I have control over what I post, but I can't control what others do.

That being said, I honestly do not have that much to worry about. I would call myself fairly "photo-cautious." I never let people take photos of me doing anything that I would not want everyone to see, but I also don't really have anything to hide.

But others are not as careful. Every time I open Facebook or scroll through Instagram, the type of photo that some people willingly post on the Internet shocks me, especially those of pre-teen and teenage girls in extremely seductive poses. I'm sure you've seen them -- heavy eyeliner, red lipstick, slight pout, seductive eyes, and some contorted pose that accentuates collarbones and boobs. Of course there are many other types of incriminating photos: people with handles of alcohol, doing drugs, etc., However, when people take those photos, they are aware of the consequences of posting pictures of themselves breaking the law. But, because standing in a provocative pose is not illegal, many girls do not realize the consequences of posting these photos.

Every time they upload a picture of themselves to the Internet, they add to a pool of data that anyone (friends, future employers, college admissions counselors) can access and use to judge them. And, if they post their location along with the photo, they make themselves so easily desired and so easily found. Just think of all the stalkers in the world.

So why do some girls continue to post these pictures? I think part of the problem lies with the fact that the media constantly inundates them with seductive images of models and actresses, desensitizing girls from the inappropriateness of the photos. If Lady Gaga posts naked pictures of herself on twitter, why shouldn't one of her teenage followers do the same?

And what about all of those advertisements that exploit the female nude to sell clothing? In April 2012, the British Advertising Standards Authority banned several American Apparel advertisements. According to the Guardian, they received complaints stating that the ads were "pornographic, exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women." How could a series of images of nude women modeling pants with their breasts emphasized not be considered pornographic and inappropriate? These advertisements are not simply another artist's rendition of the female nude; they exploit the female nude to sell clothing.

Companies, celebrities, and models should realize the negative impact that advertisements and photos have on their target audience. If American Apparel focuses on selling clothing and accessories to young women, their advertisements should also consider the vulnerability of that age group to images in the media. Celebrities, models, and companies need to unite and stop producing and posing in these photos. They should try to gain a following by positively influencing their target audience. Customers also need to make their voices heard by not supporting companies with such sexually exploitive ad campaigns, by not buying their products or services. Without negative feedback, many companies and celebrities will continue to exploit seductive images of females, for they will do almost whatever it takes to sell their products or themselves.