Ben Whishaw Selfie Drama Erupts on Tumblr

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"If a bike is unlocked outside, does that give us the right to take it?"

Starting Friday, drama erupted on Tumblr, Facebook fandoms and special groups dedicated to actor Ben Whishaw. Whishaw has become a Tumblr darling and has dozens of specific blogs dedicated to him. They have generated millions of hits and "notes," Tumblr speak for likes or shares.

The drama emanated from a photo shared by a Tumblr user named TechnTea that went viral throughout Tumblr, receiving thousands of notes. The image was nothing special, just a selfie of him standing on the streets of New York City covered in snow. However, its source became an issue of controversy. It was downloaded from Whishaw's mothers' private Facebook account. Whether or not the photo was intended to be public was at first unclear. Regardless, when it was discovered that the photo was lifted from Whishaw's mother's Facebook profile, it caused ripples of controversy.

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The thread in question, on the page of the original poster of the photo, TechnTea

While we won't reproduce the photo here [if you really want to see it, it's easily searchable], we will detail the back and forth of the resulting argument that implicates the Internet ethics of privacy, fandom, and social sharing.

A user named theknittedcat began the argument with a post titled "Can We Just Have Some Respect." Other users immediately piled on.

u/simplywhishaw: It is stolen. It amazes me why people can’t just look and go on if that’s the case. Why is stealing the photo and then uploading it somewhere else okay? It’s not in my opinion. That’s clearly a personal photo no matter how excited we are that he’s in New York. 

u/boredpsychopathugh, that’s so disrespectful. I honestly thought it was a fan photo someone didn’t credit. Who in the world is stalking his family on FB? Creepy.

u/theknittedcatPeople will argue his mother didn’t [B]lock it but why should she have to?

u/theaoidos: ewww. I’ll delete. People are gross :/

u/simplywhishaw: That’s her son. He’s not our property. I really wish I could ask the people who share such things why they do it.

But the original poster defended herself:

u/TechnTea: Exactly how did I steal it?  It was not private. It was a public profile picture.  I didn’t publish it and sell it.  She shared it to the public.  I didn’t link back to the source because I did not want fans to harass her. Other people have brought the source into it.  I felt that it was a lovely picture of Ben and why wouldn’t she want others to see it?  

u/theknittedcat: It isn’t yours to take though. It might be public but you don’t know his mother so what right, in fairness, do you have to share? With all due respect we should be mature enough not to do that. She should not have to lock her account because we can’t respect the fact her son doesn’t belong to us and she’s not sharing for our benefit.

u/ TechnTea: I posted the picture on Tumblr.  It was not stolen as it was shared to the public on FB. It is a lovely picture of Ben and I simply wanted to share it.  I did not link back to the original source because I didn’t want to expose the source to fans who might harass her.  

u/theaoidos: It makes me especially uncomfortable because maybe his mom just doesn’t know how to lock her account, and that means people are taking advantage of that ignorance :/ would they want strangers taking advantage of their mom like that?

u/theknittedcat: Just because it’s not locked doesn’t mean it’s ours. If a bike is not locked up outside does that give us the right to take it

At least one user came to the defense of u/TechnTea

u/littleowls3: Oh shit, don’t be too hard on people. I reblogged it and I didn’t know. :< It’s a very nice snap and looked like a professional photo vs someone’s facebook share.

Ultimately, the photo was removed (apparently by Linda Whishaw) from Facebook, which would indicate that it was in fact intended to be private. 

u/theknittedcat: Thank goodness it’s been deleted after I politely asked them to think if that’s too private to share. But can they think twice before posting? *sighs*

But does it really make any difference? If there's a million photos of Whishaw online, and people share them and worship them as it is, does it matter if one was taken from his mother's Facebook? Why is it any more creepy to worship that photo than any other? Is the intrusion into privacy undertaken by u/theknittedcat in order to ask about the photo worse than the sharing itself?

Questions to be pondered. But at least one user, the original poster u/TechnTea, is unconvinced by the criticism, as she has not removed the photo from her Tumblr page.