BOSTON (CBS) – If you’re even an infrequent rider of the T, you’re probably used to seeing fellow passengers in some interesting circumstances. Whether passed out on the floor or dressed as a giant baby, T commuters never fail to entertain. And they are now the subject of a new Facebook page called “Boston T People.”
Most of the pictures on the site were taken by the young woman who opened the page, but as it’s grown in popularity this week, more and more photos are coming in from fellow T riders.
“People are sending me countless pictures and they’re all great,” says the site’s creator, a local woman named Erika. “I love them and I can’t wait to put them up.”
But in what some would consider an ironic twist, the person who is “trying to have fun” by posting strangers’ faces online is, herself, trying to protect her identity. In her interview with WBZ news, she asked that we hide her face.
Erika says that while the “overwhelming” majority of responses she has received to the site have been positive, about ten to fifteen percent have been negative – some, disturbingly so.
Someone researched all the private information they could find on her, and posted it online, along with threats of violence against Erika and her parents.
“This has gained popularity in a matter of 12 hours and the fact that my family and I have been physically threatened because of it is just outrageous,” Erika says. “I mean, I understand that it’s controversial, but to take it to this level, to try to track me down, is absolutely absurd. I’m not ashamed of this and I’d be more than happy to show my face to people…. I’m just literally concerned that someone went that far.”
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo notes that the picture-taking is absolutely legal, though he’d like to see the photographers respect fellow passengers.
“Public transportation is just that… public,” Pesaturo wrote in a statement to WBZ. “In a world full of camera-equipped smart phones, picture taking on public transit is no different than picture taking on a sidewalk, in a park, or at a ballgame. Of course, we do ask people to be courteous and respectful to those who express a desire to not be the subject of a photograph.”
Erika says she understands how some people would be upset by the photos – even though the idea is an old one. There are plenty of sites online that feature stealthily-taken photographs of people in public. For her part, Erika promises to take down the picture of anyone who contacts her with a complaint. But she insists the whole adventure is meant to be “light-hearted.”
“It’s all in good fun and I’m not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings by it,” she says.
Undeterred by the criticism, Erika is planning to move the site from Facebook to its own domain, where she can include the hundreds of photos she’s getting from other riders as well.