BCM240 Digital Research Project and Reflective Report: “Face Approval”



Name: Denika Kelly

Student Number: 4511827

Words: 3592


Waking up after a night out only to find your friend has uploaded and tagged you in the most hideous photo that managed to capture your lazy eye and sweaty forehead is never an ideal situation. No one enjoys their privacy being invaded, however social media has made this concept easier than ever before. Consumers are now freely sharing and uploading images and videos for each and every member of the social media platform around the world to see. The distinction between private and public spaces in conjunction with social media audiences are seeing major issues with the consent of imagery, which through research and development there may be a solution found in the form of a program titled “Face Approval”.

Public and Private Spaces:

The distinction between public and private spaces is imperative to the use of social media in today’s society. Private space can be described as something that is presumed to belong to someone and something they regard to be psychologically theirs. Public space on the other hand can be metaphorically described as an indoor or outdoor living room the belongs to multiple people, or even society at large comprised of locations such as accessible roads, parks, restaurants, etc (H. Lewis, 1953). There are certain informal and formal rules that govern both private and public space such as within a public space in specific areas it is formal that citizens aren’t allowed to smoke. An informal rule may be that one would not yell or make commotion that may impair on anyone else’s experience of the public space. The rules of private space is significantly different in this regard as individuals are able to decipher exactly what they do or say without influence from anyone else because the space is theirs and theirs only.

Public and private spaces commonly bring up the issue of citizen’s expectations on privacy, and if it is reasonable. Whilst someone is in a public space what they do and say is essentially broadcasted for all of those around them to see, however does it give them the right to further broadcast it to the rest of the world that weren’t apart of that public space at the time? For example if a guitarist was busking on the streets of a public area for those around him to listen, is he giving them the assumption that they have permission to take photographs or videos of him and post in on social media platforms such as Facebook for their other 500 friends and the world to also see?
It can be assumed that a portion of people don’t mind if their face is plastered all over the internet, however it must be taken into consideration that some don’t feel the same and are in fact not comfortable with people doing what they please with imagery of them. The depths of this issue could even go as far as getting into the commercialization of a persons image, or misinterpreting a situation, or even the legal and ethical obligations of human rights however the issue must be tackled from the bottom of where it starts, with protecting the most simple of all internet privacy disputes… the “tagging” of photographs on social media.

Current Market Gap:

The increase of issues found in the social media market are rapidly rising. The issue of privacy and ethics is escalating from the notion that every time an individual searches for the best meal deal, or changes their relationship preferences, or even shares news with their friends and family on social media their audience is bigger than they could ever imagine. An example of this is how mining online communication lead to Microsoft identifying women they are at risk of postpartum depression (S. Jayson, 2014). Smartphones and tablets are devices that are now embedded in consumers personal day to day lives, with the concept of leaving home without a devise being extremely rare. Consumers are now brining their personal devices, which could be considered as a private place to them, into the area of public spaces creating the major issue of imposition of space between real life and the world of social media. This imposition is involved with the ideology of consent and whether consumers are either approving or disproving of others uploading images they took of, or with others in public spaces. Consent can be described as “the acceptance or approval of what is planned or done by another” (freedictionary.com, 2014).

When a consumer is in a public space taking images of other people it could be considered viable as it is a mutual space everyone has equal ownership of. However when the image is of someone drunk and falling down, someone picking their nose, or someone wearing an obscene outfit that they clearly didn’t check in the mirror that morning there is nothing they can do about the image popping up online. An image indiscretion could also be as simple as friend (a) uploading a photo of themselves and friend (b) and friend (b) not being comfortable with the image wanting it removed from all social media. This is where the current gap in the social media market is exceedingly apparent.


Collective with the relationship between social media and space, a research project was conducted during 2012 between partners from Urban Knowledge, Action, and Research (PUKAR) and a Mumbai Lab team. The project looked at one of the world’s fastest growing and densely populated cities, Mumbai, and how the population find public and accessible places, and private spaces to seek refuge in their country (BMW Guggenheim Lab, 2012).

The project launched a seven-month empirical study exploring the issues of public and private space in Mumbai titled “Your Place, My Place, or Our Public Space” and attempted to uncover how correspondents affect the creation and use of an urban space through the platforms of surveys, interviews, and research groups of 800 dissimilar Mumbai citizens. The project uncovered that all of the 800 Mumbai respondents considered a public space to be constituted of a free and open area such as a park, however surprisingly they also considered spaces that also have a fee for entry such as cinema’s and membership clubs to be a part of the public space category, which may be considered as unviable due to not being available to citizens with financial constraints. A distressing one-fifth of the respondents group stated the confronting fact that they have no access to community space of any kind (Kawai, S. 2012).

Although Mumbai citizens may not be involved with the issues of social media, their struggle with space can be contrasted to other countries that can include the Internet in the debate. This study can support the fact that having a definitive line between public and private space is of utter importance for consumers.

Research graph


(Figure 1)


Secondary research into consent for media content also showed that there has been a great involvement by government bodies raising concerns for images of children appearing online. There have been cases such as images of young male footballers in public spaces appearing on homosexual websites due to the heightened use of mobile phone or similar devise cameras (alrc.gov.au, 2014). It was also noted that the issue of unauthorized photography has been a concern since the 1890s as has only increased over the decades with different forms of cameras becoming available and more platforms for the images to exist have been created.

There have also been a number of cases where citizens have attempted to sue social media giants such as Facebook for the uploading of “un-flattering” images that were unable to be removed. A special case during 2010 in Minnesota that went viral was Randall LaBrie posted childhood photographs of his nephew Aaron Olsen who didn’t approve of the images filed a lawsuit against him and Facebook for allowing the images to be uploaded (shortlist.com, 2010).

There are a number of forms available for citizens to use so their uploading of media content can be considered legal and viable, such as Sullivan’s form used by a number of regulatory bodies (Figure 2). If such forms are to be filled out in some circumstances such as school website, this poses the question as to why aren’t such matters taken for individuals when their privacy should be considered on the same level of importance.

survey example

(Figure 2)

Digital Project Ideology:

A digital project that would be able to be implemented to close the current gap in the market previously highlighted is the “Face Approval” program. This program would be designed to protect individuals from images or video footage of themselves being uploaded online by others, and as a result minimize the breaching of privacy of public spaces on social media.

The program would use the technology already created by the engine Facebook of “facial recognition” which appears when any photo is uploaded. If Facebook has had a photo in the system of a person’s face before it automatically picks it up again every time a new image is added and asks the up-loader to “tag” the image member so it subsequently appears on their Facebook site as well. “Face Approval” will take this tactic and expand on the privacy settings by sending each member featured in the image (by facial recognition) a message to either approve or disapprove of the image being uploaded to social media, and each and every member will have to approve of the image for it to be uploaded. For example, if a friend uploaded a photo of 5 of their friends, and 4 approved however 1 didn’t like the photo and disapproved, the image would be rejected and unable to be posted.

If an image were to be uploaded that facial recognition hadn’t had the face scanned into the system before, “Face Approval” would block the image form being uploaded until the up-loader tag’s who the image or video is of so a consent message could be forwarded to them for approval.

“Face Approval” would also be adapted to other social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr using the same facial recognition technology protecting all individuals who would like to keep certain images private and not have their public online space invaded by others. “Face Approval” would also stop other arising issues such as fake social media accounts being created using photo’s stolen from other existing sites.

Implementation of Project:

A brief survey for the ideology and implementation of “Face Approval was conducted using seven multiple choice questions to determine whether social media users would be interested in the creation of such a program, and uncover their basic feelings towards online image consent. The survey was uploaded to Facebook, the source of the market gap, for any willing media consumers to respond to at their own will to ensure answers were from targeted users of the product idea. The survey respondent demographics ranged from 18-50 year olds, with 20 males and 26 females giving quite an even spread of data. With the geographics being comprised of all Australian respondents.

From the survey comprised of 46 respondents it was made apparent that 30% of people feel annoyed when a photo is uploaded without their permission, and 70% remained un-phased. However, when asked would they rather their permission sought first 73% responded yes, only 21% were un-phased, and 6% answered no. This lead to asking respondents if they would be interested in a system such as “Face Approval” where 71% percent of people answered yes, and also answered yes to the fact that the system would make them feel their privacy is being more protected online. A conclusion that can also be drawn from the survey is the age group of respondents. The gap between ages 18-50 is a massive step, which means the topic of the survey must have appealed to a large market. Therefore it can be concluded that a program created as a solution to the consent issue would suit a both male and female and social media users of all ages.

From this research survey it can be accurately stated that consumers would be interested in and benefit from the ideology of the “Face Approval” system, and it would successfully close the current market gap distinguishing the line between a public and private space online.

Project Stakeholders:

A stakeholder can be described as a person or organization that has an interest in a company and their products and services. Stakeholders can have say in and subsequently affect an organizations actions, objectives, and policies (Elliot. G. 2012). The stakeholders that would be interested in the service “Face Approval” are the current major social media market leaders such as Facebook, Instagram, Myspace, Tumblr, and Twitter. These social media platforms are all connected via the fact they have the ability to allow consumers to upload any photo or video online at their free will, with the only way an image can be taken down is an online complaint letter which could take more than 24 hours to clear through the system.

These stakeholders would be interested in “Face Approval” as it is a positive service that would make their current customers even more satisfied with their products. “Face Approval” would assist in making online privacy more prominent and as a result make consumers feel safer, which could even encourage new customers to join the service if they were previously skeptic of security. In turn this will increase market share, which is the aim of every organization making it hard to resist implementing the “Face Approval” service. Organizations such as Facebook are a virtual public space for all citizens to participate in free of cost. There are private spaces within the bigger public space such as personal messages to others and secret groups. “Face Approval” will simply be another way for consumers to have a cyber private space in a public arena.

Project Graphics (Advertising Campaign):

To generate awareness for the “Face Approval” program the perfect platform would be an advertisement. The advertisement would be best released on social media sites as this is where the target audience for the program will be most likely to view it, and if it appeared on a number of sites this would promote recognition for the program brand. An advertisement mock ad was created (Figure 3) which features the headlining question “Have you ever been caught like this in an image online?” which is followed by three “embarrassing” images of a man picking his nose, lady falling over, and man riding his bike in his pajamas. This will gather an audience’s attention as it can be assumed no one wants a similar image of them online. Another image has also been included in the advertisement of three girls with approval signs over there faces and one with a disapproving cross followed by a speech bubble that reads “They didn’t catch me with Face Approval!”. This concept is used to highlight how consumers will be able to decide where there face appears in public online.


(Figure 3)


After in depth primary and secondary research it can be concluded that “Face Approval” would be the perfect program to close the market gap between public and private spaces online appealing to the identified major social media market leaders. The program would be extremely beneficial for both consumer and corporation with the interaction between audience and program being only of a positive nature. Consumers will be able to regard their private space online as secure, and the public living room of social media will still remain open to all citizens. As a outcome of the program people will think twice before uploading the latest image of the random man on the street they just saw spill his coffee allover himself, and the man will only be wearing his coffee shame in public and not online thanks to “Face Approval”.


Australian Government Law Reform Commission. 2014. Particular Privacy Issues Affecting Children and Young People: Taking Photos and Other Images. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 16 October 14].

Carter. R. 2012. When Can Someone Post a Photo of You Online?. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 22 October 14].

Elliot, G. Rundle-Thiele, S. Waller, D. 2012. Marketing . 2nd ed. Australia: Wiley and Sons.

Farlex. 2014. The Free Online Dictionary. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 16 October 14].

Jayson. S. 2014. Social Media Raises Privacy and Ethics Issues. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 22 October 14].

Kawai, S. 2012. Your Place? My Place? or Our Place?. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 16 October 14].

Lewis , H. D, 1953. Public and Private Space. Meeting of the Aristotelian Society, [Online]. 4, 13-16. Available at: . [Accessed 22 October 2014].

Short List. 2012. Man Sues Uncle and Facebook for Un-flattering Facebook Photo. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 18 October 14].

Sullivan, M. 2014. Photograph and Media Consent Form. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 18 October 14].




Digital Research Project Reflection:

Upon choosing a topic to base my digital research project on I found great difficulty. It took me over a week, multiple cups of caffeine, and few pen lids, which I managed to chew to pieces in frustration until it finally hit me. In a last attempt to find inspiration I decided to have a second scan of all the lecture notes where the topic of private and public space specifically took my attention.

As a busker in my spare time I definitely understand the concept of the line between public and private spaces and I found the challenges I have come across through my own experiences could be applied to the creation of a project. When busking I have always considered the fact I’m putting myself in public for everyone to see at my own personal will, and I discovered myself to be quite submissive of the fact citizens were taking photo and video footage of me. Before the lecture I had never even considered what happened to all those flashing lights I could see in the corner of my eye when I was playing “Jingle Bells” and little children were dancing around in front of me, then I actually got thinking. What if images or footage of me is circling around the Internet and I don’t even know it? Or what if I’m featured on some random families Christmas or holiday video that they show all their friends and family? It was at this point I realized there was not a thing I could do about it, but for the future I could create a project that could, “Face Approval”. It was made apparent in the final lecture that researchers look for gaps or un-answered questions, and my question became focused on why social media platforms haven’t attended to the issue of media consent? Although I couldn’t directly answer this question, I decided I’d be able to produce a solution to the ever-growing issues uploading un-consented images and videos create as there is always hope that something that is accepted now, may not always be accepted in the future.

After initiating research into the topic I was shocked to find there are little to no legal obligations for uploading media content, and it appeared ethical considerations were simply in the eye of the beholder. This factor gave me the motivation to produce a project that would alter this notion, which as a result of my own research a number of consumers were also interested. The stakeholders for the project were quite obvious as the research revolved around social media, therefore the major social media giants in todays market were my main target for the implementation and purpose of “Face Approval”. The most difficult part of the research project was tackling the frustrating program Photoshop. As a marketing student I’m all about being the brains behind an idea, but actually producing the idea is where I have an issue. The graphics within my report are a sad reflection of my Photoshop attempt however I’m happy with the fact they flow with the main idea. If I had the opportunity to do the report again, I’d definitely look further into how Photoshop operates and seek help from someone who doesn’t want to throw their laptop out the window every time something doesn’t work.

Throughout the research and writing of my project I was constantly looking back on lectures and readings within the BCM240 course, which was an eye opener that I had learned concepts along the way which assisted me in applying the correct topics to my own research. The experience of designing my own digital research project has been a learning curve that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was typically accustomed to very specific assignment outlines which have pre-decided topics and instructions. I believe this aspect of the BCM240 assessment was the most valuable to me, and taught me to think on my own to feet rather than relying on a piece of paper deciding everything for me.

Overall I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed designing and writing this assessment, which I believe came from the power that I could choose a topic that actually interested me. The research was fascinating and I found myself reading for hours on end going off on all sorts of tangents that expanded my knowledge in the media audience industry. I learned a great deal about both myself, my writing, and private and personal spaces with the application of social media which I can only assume would reach many others as well who may have not considered it previously like I did. Although “Face Approval” is only a hypothetical program, I truly believe it or something extremely similar is crucially needed in the functioning of consent within social media platforms, and I hope it will be developed in the near future before the gap in the market becomes even greater.