Can we help prevent social media driven impact upon specific locations?
The simple answer to this I believe is yes but it requires a nuanced approach by individual social media users, organisations that use those images and bloggers publishing articles.
The Individual Social Media User:
If sharing a photograph via social media consider if the specific location is sensitive? Imagine your picture goes viral. Will an increase in numbers visiting that specific location have consequences? If so then consider not tagging the specific location of the photo and/or obscure the location. If there is a beautiful lake or view then consider tagging the general location rather than the specific. If the access to the location is via private land consider how a viral image may affect the access for others that want to enjoy the same view.
If you are asked in either the comments or via private messages where a specific location is then consider replying politely that the area is potentially sensitive and you are choosing to not share a specific location.
Local and Regional Tourism Organisations:
If a local or regional tourism organisation is sharing beautiful images and the original content creator has considered the sensitivity of a specific location then there is no action required. The reality is that tens of thousands of images are shared by tourism organisations each year and the likelihood that they could ‘sensitivity’ check each picture is not practical. Therefore the focus has to be on the original content creator.
The Social Bloggers:
If posting an article about a specific location then potentially consider the following:
- Is the specific location environmentally sensitive?
- If the article goes viral will an increase in numbers compromise access. Is the access to the venue private?
- If the specific location is in the mountains have you provided sufficient information regarding the appropriate equipment and experience to safely go to that location?
The social blogger has a significant advantage over the Instagram users as they have the space to share more contextual information that may help protect the specific venue, help keep the visitor safe and protect the current level of access.