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My privacy on social media never really used to concern me when I had a smaller following. I used to post photos of myself with my friends and family, even tagging locations sometimes. Almost one year ago, I decided to take my personal Instagram—which had just under 1,000 followers (all of which I knew)—and turn it into a business account for my photography. I left all of my original photos up but began to add photos from my past and recent shoots. I quickly gained a following and started receiving direct messages from random men saying really inappropriate things or asking me out (some even asked for my hand in marriage haha). I have even received a few hate messages or death threats from people. In one random case, someone tried to blackmail me and pin me against my boyfriend over something completely irrelevant, and that's when I decided it was time to remove myself from my "business" equation, more so because I was annoyed, not necessarily scared. People are nuts. I deleted all photos of myself from the past and anything that could indicate where I lived or who I was close with—including photos of me with my family and boyfriend. Now that I have a decent following of 16,000, 81% of which are men over the age of 24, I've learned it's better to keep them "out of it". Not showcasing my loved ones actually protects them from weird people going afterthem.
Even though the photos on my page are not of me (just my work), I still get direct messages on the daily from men telling me they love me in every language you can think of. I find this HILARIOUS considering I state I am a PHOTOGRAPHER not once, but TWICE in my bio!
I now have a personal Instagram (@Vero**********sc) that is private and only has 137 followers. This is the place I showcase my personal life and things that actually matter to me. For a while I thought of starting a business influencer page for myself, but there are so many risks that come with that. Influencer pages may lead to fame, but in many cases it also leads to sexual misconduct from followers, and people wanting to hurt you. Many of my friends are influencers with a one million plus following and they can't even run their own accounts anymore because of how dangerous it can be. Once your following gets that high, there's no point in opening your inbox anymore.
Veronica Sams is a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Fall 2018 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Does your privacy, or lack thereof, on social media concern you? If so, what have you done? Why or why not?
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