Privacy, Please: What Is #PlaneBae and Why Should You Care?

Jul 14, 2018

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In a day and age when nearly everyone has a device within arm’s reach capable of recording every airplane altercation and gator runway crossing, privacy lines can easily be blurred.

The most recent example comes to us courtesy of Rosey Blair, who asked a woman behind her to switch seats on Alaska Airlines Flight 3327 from New York to Dallas so that Blair could sit next to her boyfriend. The woman agreed and took her seat next to a male passenger, and the two struck up a conversation.

Positioned directly behind the new seat mates, Blair and her boyfriend proceeded to capture every word and gesture exchanged between the two by taking photos and videos. Upon landing, Blair then released her story on Twitter with the hashtag #PlaneBae; the thread was retweeted by more than 300,000 and liked by nearly a million according to The Atlantic. And thus, the latest internet drama was born.

Since then, the male half of #PlaneBae has basked in the fame, while his female counterpart has tried to remain anonymous and out of the spotlight. As the internet is wont to do, the doxxing began and the woman’s personal information was published, leading not only to a wave of uninvited attention but a bout of racist remarks on Twitter.

The woman has finally come forward to issue the following statement, which reminds us that “going viral” is often unwanted:

“I am a young professional woman. On July 2, I took a commercial flight from New York to Dallas. Without my knowledge or consent, other passengers photographed me and recorded my conversation with a seatmate. They posted images and recordings to social media, and speculated unfairly about my private conduct.

“Since then, my personal information has been widely distributed online. Strangers publicly discussed my private life based on patently false information. I have been doxxed, shamed, insulted and harassed. Voyeurs have come looking for me online and in the real world.

“I did not ask for and do not seek attention. #PlaneBae is not a romance – it is a digital-age cautionary tale about privacy, identity, ethics and consent.

“Please continue to respect my privacy, and my desire to remain anonymous.”

What may have seemed like a fun idea to Blair at the start has clearly come at the expense of this unknowing woman. While there’s no doubt having cameras at the ready has helped bring to light many an unjust situation, especially in cases like Dr. David Dao, who was recorded being assaulted and dragged off a United flight, the question remains: Where do we draw the line when it comes to privacy in airports and on airplanes?

The line is pretty clear when it comes to filming in airports and on airplanes as we previously reported, but not as it pertains to fellow passengers. While there may be times someone can’t offer consent but would benefit from being filmed — as in the case of Dao — it’s worth taking a second the next time you’re tempted to hit record to consider what repercussions might befall the person on the other end of the lens — and yourself as well.

Now, Blair has issued a statement of her own, an apology to the woman, and has since deleted the tweets that started it all:

To keep yourself and others out of trouble when it comes to recording something, visit your state legislature’s current year posting of Laws and Statutes (ensure you’re checking a .gov site). Each state is different, and may use different coding and language. City and municipal codes should be checked as well. Contact a lawyer if you are unsure, or to see if the laws in your state have changed.

The ACLU Filming and Photographing the Police

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Search Authority

Know Your Rights with Border Patrol

TSA

TPG has reached out to Alaska Airlines for comment and has not heard back as of publication.

Featured image by xijian for Getty Images.

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