An unexpected drama unfurled on Facebook as one Aaron Wong accidentally found out that his Facebook acquaintance, Neo Soo Sian Sylvia, took photos from the Internet and passed them off as her own.
Wong wrote a rather lengthy post on Sep. 21, 2019 to address the issue:Here's a summary of what happened.
Stolen photos to promote travel business
Wong shared that he had met Neo at a diving event, after which they became Facebook friends, which is a common in the diving industry.
Neo claims to be an explorer and climate activist, according to her Facebook profile.
Earlier in the week, Wong had seen some gorgeous photos of the southern lights at Antarctica from Neo with the hashtag #PhotosTakenBySylvia.
These photographs were allegedly posted to promote her travel business:
Wong was surprised by the photos and so he did a quick Google search of these photos and found that they were, in fact, taken by a German photographer by the name of Stefan Christmann.
Christmann also posted the photo with his watermark on his Facebook page:
Denies stealing images, claims she had permission
Wong proceeded to contact Neo about the stolen images, telling her that she should not claim someone else's images as her own, and should at least drop a credit mention.
According to Wong, Neo went on to delete the message before sending him a deluge of private messages claiming that she had the permission to use those images:
"She went on to say "Not all professional photographers want credits and fame. Some prefer to stay out of the limelight." I found this odd, as a photographer for 22 years, I have never heard a photographer saying that because we know credits are not about ‘fame’ but a protection of IP rights. Any photographer knows that."
Wong said he contacted Christmann about the images and the latter confirmed that no one had reached out to him before.
Knowing that his photo was used without permission, Christmann then asked Neo to have his images removed:
However, Neo continued her attempts to cover her tracks, as Wong claimed that Neo had messaged him within that day to ask him to "mind his own business" and even deleted all of Stefan's messages.
Warped justifications for her actions
Here are some of Neo's claims in defence of her actions, which include comments such as "Earth doesn't belong to us, so any photos taken by anyone also doesn't belong to anyone":
After looking through the rest of her Facebook posts, Wong suspected that all of Neo's Antarctica photos were lifted off the internet and she might have also created fake accounts to rebut Wong's claims.
Neo allegedly sent over 100 messages to Wong to defend herself and to tell him off.
She also claimed that the police should catch her if she is wrong.
Wong clarifies intentions
While Wong wishes to caution people about Neo and to highlight this issue, Wong also emphasised that he does not have any intent to shame or want others to harass Neo as such.
All he wanted to do was to show Neo that "the world does not agree with her ridiculous logic" and for people to collectively report her to Facebook to shut her down.
Since Wong's post went up, he said that he has had over 200 comments from other divers and photographers who also had the same problem with Neo.
Hashtag changed in one post
A quick check on Neo's Facebook account on Sep. 22, 2019 reveals that she has since changed the hashtag on one of her Facebook posts from #PhotosTakenBySylvia to #PhotosTakenByOtherPhotographers:
The photo shared in the post was the one taken by Christmann.
The rest of her posts, however, still contain images with the hashtag #PhotosTakenBySylvia.
Wong also shared a post by Neo who wrote that she wishes people can be "more generous" if they truly want to share their photos on Facebook.
Top image via Aaron Wong/FB