Obama’s Skeet Shooting Photo Draws Trolls and Photoshoppers

Fans of the White House Flickr stream finally decided to read the fine print, and it went viral. Last week the White House published a picture of President Obama shooting a gun at Camp David. The photo was taken in August 2012 but was recently posted in response to gun control advocates asking about his skeet-shooting hobby. The controversial photo received ten times more views than the average White House Flickr photo, which caused people to finally notice the disclaimer underneath.

This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

That disclaimer has been diligently placed under every photo that the White House has posted since it joined the photo sharing network in 2009, but suddenly it was news. In the eyes of the Internet, the White House wasn’t simply pasting the same copyright statement that it’s used for years, it was challenging the trolls and Photoshop savants to do their worst. All it took was one controversial photo for people to claim the White House was banning Photoshop.

screenshot2Because the contentious photo received exponentially more traffic than other pictures on the Flickr stream, more people took the time to read what it was about, including the fine print. This led to Internet comments saying the government was taking away the rights of Americans while a slew of people seemingly defied the White House by Photoshopping President Obama with celebrities and cartoon characters. Sometimes virilitiy is caused by a well-meaning photo snowballing out of control. But how did the White House handle it?

obama-skeet-bugs-bunnySince the photo has been posted, the White House has moved on. The next day they posted a photo of the president meeting Gabrielle Giffords and continued using the same disclaimer they’ve had since day one. We live in a world where any photo is fair game for Internet fodder. This wasn’t the first time a President has been the subject of Photoshop/Internet ridicule, and it certainly won’t be the last. When all is said and done, they handled it pretty well. The White House stood by its choice to use the photo and will continue to defend its stance on gun control.

What can we learn from “skeet-gate” about managing your online reputation? Don’t pull your content or act rashly when it’s placed in a negative light by Internet trolls. You won’t please everyone and riding out the storm with dignity will leave you with a better reputation than if you start censoring.

About the author

Amanda Dodge