This post could be written with several different angles, however I decided to write it based on the Social Networking view.  People based in the UK may be familiar with the following, but I believe the underlying issue is a global topic.

This morning started like any other and as part of my routine I scanned the news websites to get a handle on developing events.  A local story caught my attention .... A father had been in a shopping centre over the weekend with his daughter enjoying the amenities.  As part of his visit he bought his young daughter an ice-cream and she sat at a table while the doting father snapped a picture on his camera phone.  He upload it to his Facebook page for his family and friends to see.  No harm done. No one else was in the picture.

However, within a few minutes he was accosted by the private security firm in the shopping centre, police were called, and he was told to delete the picture and they had the powers to confiscate his camera under the Terrorism Act!!  (you could not make this stuff up). After some discussion his details were taken by police and he left the centre.

The Centre claim they have a clear policy on No Photograph.

There are a number of issues -- firstly, the UK has quite clear guidelines on what the Police can and cannot do when  people take pictures in a Public place; basically very little.  (Other countries impede photographers much more).  Secondly, it was not a public place but private property so technically the father needs to abide by their rules.  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the police, the security firm and the centre reacted well outside the bounds of common sense.

The local news picked up on the story this morning noting that a Facebook page existed asking the public to boycott the Shopping Centre.  When I checked it had a few followers.  After a few hours the public started to bombard the Facebook page of the shopping centre itself and they were left with no alternative but to issue a statement defending their actions, the wording of which left much to be desired and was contradictory.  By early evening the 'boycott page' had exploded to over 16,000 followers and the story was featured on the national news. A few hours later the shopping centre issued a letter apologising and have changed their policy on photography.  The statement is here

I think what this must demonstrate is the sheer power of social networking.  Within the space of just twelve hours a single incident that enraged a father sparked a large public outcry and made a Corporate back track, see sense and update.

The public relations damage this may have done to the shopping centre is immensurable.  The fast paced debate it sparked is impressive.  The result it produced is a victory for common sense.

A study in 2010 suggested that, on average, we spend over 25% of our internet time on Social Networking sites -- we all have an opinion and more frequently we are being very vocal with our thoughts.

Braehead Shopping Centre is part of the Capital Shopping Centres Group PLC with fourteen centres around the UK

site by DAJ