Earlier this month, the in-flight romance affectionately known as #planebae captured the internet’s attention. While it all started on cloud nine, the on-the-ground story has veered away from the happy ending fans were rooting for and turned into a cautionary tale about digital privacy.
After swapping seats on a flight from New York to Dallas and sharing play-by-plays of what appeared to be a budding romance throughout the flight on Twitter, Rosey Blair and her boyfriend continued to dig for information about the seatmates to satiate their curiosity. Their internet fans were on the edge of their seats waiting for the next chapter of the in-flight fairytale.
Blair posted this video when they discovered the duo’s Instagram accounts:
The follow-up Tweets were good humored on the surface. But they were speculative and dug deeper into the strangers’ private lives.
He Said, She Said
The man in the saga embraced the viral moment and accompanying attention. A professional soccer player-turned-model, Euan Holden happily made the rounds of television interviews and updated his social profiles to include #planebae:
Mornin’ world 🌎…? You guys are cracking me up with ‘PlaneBae’. Where do I even start the day? Breakfast?
— Euan Holden (@EuanHolden) July 4, 2018
Meanwhile, the unwitting female participant in #planebae saga opted for anonymity. However, encouraged by Blair in a now-deleted Tweet, internet users put on their detective caps and “doxxed” her, digging deep to find and share her personal information. As a result, the woman received so much unwanted attention and harassment, both online and in real life, that she quit social media and has since issued the following statement through a lawyer:
“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.”
Before you eagerly hashtag a stranger, it’s important to pause and put yourself in their shoes and consider the ramifications of your actions. In this case, neither party consented to the filming or distribution of their private interaction — and they had very different reactions to it.
This week, Blair tweeted an apology. In it, she notes the exploitative nature of her actions. She also noted that what she did was not inspirational:
The apology received more than 500 comments, ranging from supportive fans to fed-up critics. One comment blames the “trolls” who ruined a sincerely happy moment:
Heeya. I read the whole thread from when it started and she meant no harm whatsoever. She was sincerely happy about the fact that two people met on a plane and were into each other and she was somehow, a part of it. It’s just sad how trolls turned the whole thing around.
— Iphe (@hanny4all) July 10, 2018
On the other hand, some commenters focused on the legal issues of filming without consent. The duo did have reasonable expectations of privacy during the flight:
Legally, you're very very wrong. It's called 'the reasonable expectation of privacy' and falls under the 4th amendment. There are many, many cases pertaining to it. But the bit relevant to this situation: pic.twitter.com/65tLalYmkg
— Megan Derr. Trainwreck Mint Ice Cream. (@meganaderr) July 11, 2018
What do you think about the latest chapter of the #planebae story?