There is no faster or more perfect way to destroy your life than by posting something on the Internet. It might be a provocative Tweet, something written on Facebook, or pictures that should have remained private. The purpose of this technology was to share information and, of course, images, but some of you have taken this too damn far, and it is harming your personal and professional lives. We live in a world where 72% of American-based companies perform background checks. And the number is growing. Your Internet history is not private, especially for those traveling to or from the United States.
“A Vancouver man was denied entry into the United States after a U.S. Customs, and Border Patrol officer read his profiles on the gay hookup app Scruff and the website BBRT. The officer suspected the man was a sex worker because he found messages from the man saying he was “looking for loads” and assumed it meant he was soliciting sex for cash.”
United States Citizens are not exempt from these checks.
The New York Times reported: “American border agents have the legal authority to conduct searches at the United States border that a police officer on the street wouldn’t. Laws allowing agents to search bags without a judge’s approval, for immigration or security compliance purposes, have been extended to digital devices.”
This means that even if you are a U.S. citizen but are leaving or returning to the country, your mobile can be searched, and all of your apps, pictures, and videos will be open to review by border agents.
We want to be very clear on three (3) points:
- We love all of you that post nudes and sex videos on Tumblr and other sites for our alone time enjoyment. You have single-handedly put most porn companies out of business, and now “amateur porn” is the norm. These pics and videos are uploaded and shared worldwide and will most likely outlive us all.
- This is not a hit piece about gay porn or against guys posting whatever pics and videos they want. Most of you already have explicit photos somewhere circling the Internet, and if you don’t, you will soon enough. There is nothing we can do about that. Live your life. But…..
- There is a responsible way to have fun and show off your best side without endangering your future or present job or relationships. Think of it this way, it’s one thing for people to know you are gay, but something else for them to SEE YOU BEING GAY. Like knowing your parents had to have sex to have you versus walking in on them doing the nasty. If you are going to post, be smart about it.
The Internet gives us the feeling of anonymity, and for some, this leads them to write things they would never say in person in the real world. Usually, Tweets or Facebook posts, but sometimes even statements written on gay dating apps, have led people to lose jobs and friends. We are not the thought police, so we won’t begin to play the game of what someone meant when they typed something racist/sexist. Still, we will advise you to think twice before you post and remember that even if you delete the offending message, someone took a screenshot of it seconds after you posted it. This means that one or a few sentences can define you for life.
Also, hate speech laws exist in Europe that don’t in the United States. The E.U. takes these crimes of discrimination and bigotry very seriously, and you will not be forewarned.
Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964), was a United States Supreme Court decision handed down in 1964 involving whether the state of Ohio could, consistent with the First Amendment, ban the showing of the Louis Malle film The Lovers (Les Amants), which the state had deemed obscene. The United States Supreme Court reversed the conviction by ruling that the film was not obscene and constitutionally protected. However, the Court could not agree on a rationale, yielding four different opinions from the majority. No opinion, including the two dissenting ones, had the support of more than two justices. William J. Brennan announced the decision, but his opinion was joined only by Justice Arthur Goldberg. However, the most famous opinion from Jacobellis was Justice Potter Stewart’s concurrence, holding that the Constitution protected all obscenity except “hard-core pornography.” He wrote, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.
- The point of the above legal history lesson was to show you how you gained the right to put all those nasty pictures of yourself on the Internet. But what that decision did not and could not do was state that your employer, friends, or relatives could not judge you by what you post and that you could not lose your job or future opportunities because of what you post. The ruling just gave you the legal right to do it.
Photographs on the Internet of those under the age of majority, 18 years old, are considered illegal. In many Western Countries, the possession, posting, and sharing of these photos is felony child pornography. The penalties are severe, and you will need to register as a lifelong sex offender. So, even if that Twink on Grindr, who looks a bit too young, wants to send you some flirty pics, DECLINE!
So, you got into a fight with your ex-boyfriend, trick, or dude you met on the Internet and decided to leak his naked photos online or send them to his friends and family. This is called Revenge Porn, and it is also illegal. Thirty-eight states in the USA and the United Kingdom have made this practice punishable by law. There is also a bill advancing in the United States Senate to make it a Federal crime.
We, gays, love our outdoor events. From Pride to Folsom and any number of concerts and festivals, we show up, and sometimes show out, in our best wears. This can also mean little to no clothing. In the digital age, every mobile phone is also a camera, and many of you act like full-time documenters of events instead of just enjoying yourself. “As a general rule, if a photographer is shooting from a public space, such as a street or a park, they will usually have the right to do so without the subject’s consent. Generally speaking, if you can see it from a public space, you can take a picture of it.” But, you should be respectful of your brothers when and where you post these pictures. We should not be concerned about our events outing us or showing the world a side of us we are not ready to share publicly. You don’t have that moral right, even if you have the legal one.
As much as we love outdoor events, homosexuals enjoy bars, clubs, and private conferences held in hotels like International Mister Leather in Chicago. These are called Public-Private spaces, and the law is a bit tricky regarding photographs and videos of everyday citizens. The basic rule is you don’t have the legal right to take someone’s picture without their expressed permission. It is an invasion of privacy and does not have to be in writing. Also, the venue may have rules about mobile phone usage and pictures, and most forbid it for obvious reasons. Finally, don’t be a dick! These are our events; you are violating someone’s privacy by photographing them and placing them on the Internet. And even if it is not illegal, it does make you a creep.
Spy cam videos are a big thing being posted on the Internet. This includes showers at the gym, locker rooms, urinals, and toilets. This is also illegal. We have an expectation of privacy in these places, and when you take photos or videos, you are breaking the law and will be prosecuted.
Photos/videos of illegal drug usage, including marijuana, crystal meth, and crack, are prominent on the Internet. Google “gay 420 meth,” and a brand new world will be opened for you. The problem is that the authorities can use this content against you if you are arrested for drug usage, possession, or any other criminal offense. No, they can’t bust down your door because they saw you smoking pot on Tumblr, but it does look bad to your boss when he sees you smoking meth or baselining it on a video.
Your online photos and videos
As we mentioned earlier, we love that you guys enjoy sharing your naughty bits with us, but remember that it may come with a price. Whatever you post on the net will outlive you, and it is an almost total waste of time trying to track down every Tumblr site that could have your photo because:
- By the time you see it, an untold number of others have already viewed it
- These people may have already reposted it
- Others save pictures to their computers, and you cannot force them to release them
- It is a battle you will never win.
No pic, no chat is the name of the game on dating apps, so what is a horny boy to do? Be smart. Think long-term. You can have different face pictures from any body shots you have. Be careful of any identifiable tattoos or piercings. Make photos private to keep them from being stolen. Make good decisions about who you share your photos.
There are pictures, and there are PICTURES. Nudes are not considered too bad if leaked, but pictures that show you in action with another partner(s) or engaged in sex or high fetish acts can and will come back to haunt you. If you choose to post these sorts of pictures, think about the other person(s) in the pictures and their lives, not just your own.
There is a growing fetish of sexual self-shaming. This is when some guy takes very explicit photos of himself, usually in a sexual act, along with his personal information (i.e., driver’s license, passport) and asks others on the Internet to share. As an adult, you have the legal right to do this, but remember that all that personal information makes it much easier for a future employer to find them.
What is the big deal?
We still live in a sex-shaming world with a great deal of homophobia. As much as we believe the Internet is a safe space for us, it is not. It is an open forum for all to view and judge. Taking photos of your ass with a dildo in it might be hot (ok, it is hot!), but your boss will see it as a lack of proper judgment and a stain on the company. Many companies also have moral clauses in their employee contracts that would be activated if some of these images came to light.
It is too late if you already have images like this on the net. But you can keep from adding to any potential problems by thinking about your future. We say, “don’t fuck your future self” he won’t enjoy it as much as you do.