Posted photo of woman on CTA bus angers her, sparks firestorm of criticism

Jennifer Fastwolf.jpg

Jennifer Fastwolf with the photo she wanted removed from a website. (Chicago Tribune photo by Zbigniew Bzdak)

A Chicago retail worker tiredly boarded the #145 Wilson/Michigan Express CTA bus after a long work day. She inserted her earbuds, fired up her iPod and tried to relax. But Jennifer Fastwolf didn’t realize a woman across the aisle had taken a photo of her unwinding until Fastwolf’s friend told her the photo was posted on People of Public Transit.

Fastwolf didn’t like that her privacy was violated, so she requested that the photo be taken down. Though the site stated that photos would be taken down upon request, the site’s owner refused Fastwolf’s entreaty.

That’s when the Tribune’s Problem Solver stepped in. Reporter Jon Yates interceded and asked the site owner to take down the photo. He finally said he would, but not before making her photo the only one on the site for a period of time until midnight Sunday night.

This mean-spirited response sparked a firestorm of criticism in comments directed at site owner John Kubera. And those criticisms are well-deserved.

Taking photos of unsuspecting persons on the public way or on public transit is not against the law. Certainly I have posted photos on CTA Tattler of people doing stupid things, sleeping, putting on makeup, or whatever. I have never gotten a request to take down a photo, but if I did I would.

Do you think websites should post photos of people on public transit without their knowledge or approval?


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  • The way I figure it, if you are in a public place like a bus, that's fair game; you don't have privacy to be violated by a simple phonecam picture. It didn't do the woman much good to look like admitted fool, nor did Yates accomplish anything, as indicated by the statement in his article that after they took it down the first time, they plastered their site with it.

    If things are as usual on the Internet, it has been cached in millions of places and will turn up again.

    I also see that her hair isn't purple now, unless the Trib retouched her picture.

  • In reply to jack:

    The guy who runs the site is a creep!
    I just went to the site & under the FAQs is this:
    "Q. What if I see myself in a post and want you to take it down?
    A. You need to send in 9 forms of identification to prove to us that it

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, if a site says they'll take it down, they should take it down. That's the issue. Not anyones rights to take the picture in the first place.

  • In reply to DavidJ:

    So, I guess the correct answer is that a site should not say that it will take it down.

    As I indicated with the caching, even if the site takes it down, that doesn't erase it.

  • In reply to jack:

    The fact that the picture is on the internet is not really the issue. I think people are more outraged at the conduct of Kubera. He's the one who stated on his website that pictures can be taken down if requested. She requested to have the picture taken down and then had to deal with rude, mysterious employees denying her request. Then he resorted to bullying her for seeking help from Problem Solvers. I'm pretty sure this was his attempt to drive traffic to his website, and it backfired. People always complain about America's litigious society, but stunts like this just make it so easy.

  • In reply to jack:

    You have zero expectation of privacy on a public bus, so anyone can take a photo of you and it is within their rights to use it as they please.

    quit demonizing the photographer.

  • In reply to riffic:


    Please read the article. No one is demonizing the photographer. At all. Everyone concedes that if in the public space, one has no expectation of privacy.

    People ARE demonizing the owner of the website. He clearly states on his web site that he will take down a photograph if the subject requests it. Then he promptly ignores his own policy and tries to further humiliate Jennifer.

    He is a jerk and as anthonyb states, is simply trying to drive traffic to his mean-spirited web site.

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