Headline, October 21 2022/ ''' '' TRACKING INSTAGRAM TRADEOFF '' '''


 TRADEOFF '' '''

INSTAGRAM MOMENTS - TRACKED. A digital art project raises questions about social media and surveillance.

EARTHCAM IS A NEW JERSEY COMPANY that specializes in real-time camera feeds. EarthCam built its network of livestreaming webcams ''to transport people to interesting and unique locations around the world that maybe difficult or impossible to experience in person,'' according to the website.

Founded in 1996, EarthCam monetizes the cameras through advertising and licensing of the footage.

Mr. Depoorter realized that he could come up with an automated way to combine these publicly available cameras with the photos that people had posted on Instagram. 

So, over a two-week period, he collected EarthCam footage broadcast online from Times Square in New York, Wrigley Field in Chicago and the Temple Bar in Dublin.

DAVID WELLY SOMBRA RODRIGUES - a 35 year-old French teacher, loves to travel. After the pandemic forced him to offer his language lessons virtually, he seized the moment to move from Brazil to Europe.

And here he could hop on trains to new cities to his heart's delight, all of which he documented on Instagram.

THIS month, a photo he took in Ireland for his more than 7,000 Instagram followers went viral. But he didn't realize it until a friend messaged him, pointing him to a new article about  ''The Follower,'' a digital art project that showed just how much can be captured by webcams broadcasting from public spaces - and how surprising it can be for those who are unwittingly filmed by them.

THE ARTIST had paired Instagram photos with video footage that showed the process of taking them.  The artist had not included the Instagram users' names or handles, but Mr. Rodrigues's friends recognised him.

In Mr. Rodrigues's case, a webcam operated by a company called EarthCam caught the effort that had gone into a seemingly casual photo of him leaning against the distinctive bright red-entry way of the Temple Bar in Dublin. He tried a few different angles and poses, did a minor outfit change and eventually added a prop - a pint of pricey drink from the famous pub. 

Articles about the project incorrectly described the subjects of the piece, including Mr.Rodrigues, who goes @avecdavidwelly on Instagram, as influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers. But most of them were just typical social media users, with far smaller audiences.

''I was completely shocked,'' Mr. Rodrigues said in a Zoom interview. ''I wasn't expecting that someone was recording me.''

The artist behind ''The Follower,'' Dries Depoorter, said his project demonstrated both the artifice of images on social media and the dangers of increasingly automated forms of surveillance.

''If one person can do this, what can a government do?'' Mr. Depoorter, 31.said.

Live From Times Square : Mr. Depoorter, who is based in Ghent, Belgium, came up with the idea for ''The Follower'' over a month ago, while researching privately installed cameras in public places that he might use for a different art project.

While watching a live online feed from Times Square, he saw a woman taking pictures of herself for ''a long time.'' Thinking she might be an influencer, he tried to find the product of her extended shoot among Instagram photos recently geo-tagged to Times Square.

Rand Hammond, a campaigner against surveillance at the global human rights organization Access Now, said Mr. Depoorter's project illustrated how often people are unknowingly being filmed by surveillance cameras and how easy it has become to twitch those moments together using automated biometric scanning technologies.

''It's a dystopian reality that a lot of people don't realize is now present,'' Ms. Hammoud said.

Mr. Hammoud, who is based in Brussels, was troubled most by the broadcasting of people's activity in public spaces without their knowledge. Ms. Hammoud said EarthCam should reconsider the risks of its livestreaming, given the power of publicly available surveillance technologies.

''These cameras no longer serve the purpose they used to years ago,'' Ms. Hammoud said. ''People can be tracked.''

A Willing Subject : Mr. Depoorter is based in the European Union, which has robust privacy rules, called the General Data Protection Regulation., to protect citizens' personal data, including their photos and biometric information. 

Omer Tene and Gabe Maldoff, privacy lawyers at the law firm Goodwin, said there are exemptions in the law for artistic expression, but that artists still need to be attentive to the effects their work will have on their subjects.

''I don't think 'art' gives you a free pass,'' Mr. Maldoff said.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Tracking, Surveillance and State-of-the-World, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Kashmir Hill.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society. -the exclusive ownership of every student in the world : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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