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Grab the Meic: Taking Photos Without Consent

Gwen took photos of people at a party without their knowledge and is now worrying that she may have done the wrong thing. Here’s Meic’s advice in this Grab the Meic.

Grab the Meic is your opportunity to ask us about anything that’s worrying you. We’re here to listen and give advice. If you want to #grabthemeic then check out this page, but remember this advice is not instant. If you need advice quickly then please contact the helpline.

This article is also available in Welsh – I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg – clica yma

Hi Meic,

When I was at a party recently, I was sending videos and pics of people at the party to a group chat with three people in it. I now regret it because I’m worried that some of the people will not be OK with it (they don’t know about this). I did it because I thought it was funny but now I feel stupid, embarrassed and guilty. Please could I have some help


Gwen (name changed to protect their identity)

Meic’s Advice

Hi Gwen,

Thanks for getting in touch with Meic. It sounds like you’re worried about this issue and it’s one that affects a lot of young people.   

Taking photos and videos of your friends and peers, especially on social occasions like parties, is a normal thing to do. Usually this is because we want to share the fun we’re having, create memories, and have a laugh after the party is over. But sometimes photos and videos can be embarrassing for those appearing in them, especially if they were trying to have fun and weren’t aware that they were being recorded or photographed. If they find those photos embarrassing, the last thing they might want is for them to be shared without their consent.  

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Consent is important

Consent is a topic we talk a lot about with young people. It means giving permission for everything from healthy relationships to healthcare to sharing information and images. People at parties are often taking photos and videos of themselves or their friends. Ideally those photos should be taken with their knowledge and permission. If you’re going to share those photos on social media, it’s always a good idea to check you have their consent.

Remember, social media should be a fun and enjoyable way to communicate with friends, share photos and videos. It shouldn’t be something you fear. However, everyone needs to be considerate of others when using it. When you share an image on any platform you essentially don’t have control of that image anymore. Even if you delete it someone could have already taken a screenshot, saved, or shared it.

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Talk to them

From what you say in your email, you’re worried that these people might not be happy with the images and videos you took. The fact that you’ve thought about this and that you’re looking for advice is good. It’s difficult, from what you’ve said, to understand the context of these images and videos. If you’re just worried about the fact that you took these images without their consent, then you could talk to them, either together or separately.

Mention that you took some photos and shared them because you wanted to share a memory of a great evening together. Tell them that you didn’t think it through at the time and hope that they are ok with it.  If any of them are upset, then apologise and promise that next time you’ll ask their permission before sharing. You could also offer to delete the images if they want.

Going forward, always check out with friends’ what images, if any, they are happy for you to share.  

Learn from your mistake

A good way to judge things is to imagine yourself in that situation. How would you feel if someone took photos of you without you realising, especially unflattering ones, and sending them to people or posting them? If you wouldn’t like it, then chances are other people wouldn’t either.

If you think that the photos and messages you sent were making fun of them, and you feel bad about this, then talk to the friends you were messaging. Tell them that you now regret sending the photos. Delete the images and messages and ask them to delete them too. The fact that you’ve asked for help means that you have learnt your lesson. This might stop you from making the same mistake again.

Check out this article on Metro ‘Why you shouldn’t secretly take a stranger’s photo and post it online’

If you’re still worried and want to talk further about this with an adviser then contact us here at Meic between 8am and midnight every day on the phone, text or online chat.

Best of luck and take care,

The Meic team