Malik Aleem Ahmed
People have been making video logs (vlogs) and putting them online since 2000 (e.g. see Michael 2010). The act of vlogging is not bad in itself. In this paper, I explore if there are special circumstances, which make it harmful? Do designers of such systems have responsibility to see to it that harmful events do not occur or does the responsibility lie with the vloggers?
Vlog is a type of blog, which contains video material (e.g. see Merriam-Webster, n.d.). Vlogging is also called video blogging, vidding or vidblogging (Wikipedia, n.d.). Vlogging has been used for different purposes and can be categorized into different types such as educational vlogs, entertainment vlogs, marketing vlogs etc. By family vlogging, I mean making videos of the family, editing them and putting them online to be seen by other users. Some people have been making vlogs of themselves and their family members and uploading it to the video sharing websites like Youtube or Bliptv. Sometimes they can subscribe to the partner programme, e.g. Youtube partner programme – and make money out of it mainly through revenue sharing. The vloggers can make money by allowing relevant advertisements to be displayed with their videos, or by making them available for rental via streaming (see Youtube, n.d.). Does it make a good act or bad? In this paper, I present different examples, which shows that choosing a career of making family vlogs and making money out of it tend to make it a bad thing under special circumstances.
For the purposes of this paper, different vlog channels such as Shaytards, MrArturoTrejo and Phamdamily on Youtube.com were reviewed. During the reviewing process it was observed that many times the vlogger makes vlogs while driving holding camera in one of the hands with divided concentration, with the little children sitting in the back of the car (e.g. see Shaytards, n.d.). In other instances, children are instructed to do stupid things so that video counts are higher like telling them to smell toes and putting toes in their mouths, or asking them to jump from one wooden bed to another and in the process, they fall and are injure themselves. In other instances, it can be observed that children become camera shy and act differently in front of camera. In this paper, I argue that making and posting family vlogs to make money out of the act can be considered as morally wrong under many circumstances. I defend argument based on the following points:
- Child labor
- Children’s privacy
- Parent’s responsibility
- Psychological issues with children
- Harming others
- Bystanders privacy
In the end, I explore who bears the responsibility for these acts. I claim that not only the vloggers but also the designers of vlogging systems and programmes are morally responsible to see to it that the occurrence of harmful events are minimized. If the vloggers sign for the partner programme and make money out it then they can be considered as freelancers if not the professionals. Being freelancers make them agents of responsibility (e.g. see Ahmed & Van den Hoven, 2010) and hence they bear special responsibility. They are liable, accountable, blamable, and causally responsible for their vlogs and actions.
On the other side of the table, the designers of the systems and programme are also responsible. One suggestion is to develop a code of conduct for the vloggers and design a system in such a way that the viewers can report of the violations, just like the infringement system, if the vloggers do not follow the code of conduct. Secondly, the stakeholders have to think where do the issues associated with children stand in this evolving family vlogging world.
Ahmed, M., & van den Hoven, J. Agents of responsibility—freelance web developers in web applications development. Information Systems Frontiers, 12(4), 415-424.
Michael Sean Kaminsky. 2010. Naked Lens: Video Blogging & Video Journaling to Reclaim the YOU in YouTube. Organik Media Press.
Merriam-Webster, n.d. Available online at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vlog. Last Accessed 5th February, 2011.
Shaytards, n.d. Available online at http://www.youtube.com/shaytards. Last Accessed on 5th Feburary, 2011.
Wikipedia. n.d. Available online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_blogging. Last accessed on 5th Feburary, 2011.
Youtube, n.d. Available online at http://www.youtube.com/t/partnerships_benefits#qualifications. Last Accessed 5th Feburary, 2011.