Lillie Marshall received a huge surprise when a friend of hers posted a photo on Facebook. The photo, above, pictures Marshall (on the left) happily eating Ghanaian food on a billboard for an Accra, Ghana, restaurant. Problem is, Marshall had no idea the restaurant was using her likeness to promote itself.
“My heart kind of stopped and I thought, ‘Oh, God, is this real?’” Marshall, 32, of Boston, said.
Marshall spent time in Ghana in 2010 to volunteer teach, writing several articles for her blog about her love of Ghanaian food, chronicling each post with pictures of her happily eating the country’s traditional fare.
She never thought, though, that her trip would end with her face plastered on a billboard for anyone to see. “On one hand, it’s a little jarring to see your photo and face taken without permission,” Marshall said. “But on the other hand, since I love the country so much and it’s a small restaurant, I do feel OK about it. It’s kind of funny.”
After coming to terms with the photo, which she thinks the restaurant Synagogue found through searching for terms like, “Jewish,” “food” and “Ghana,” Marshall has developed a few insights on the situation.
“It’s started a lot of conversations that I think are worthwhile. For example, a lot of travel bloggers, myself included, will use photos of strangers that they snap in the street on their website,” Marshall said. “So why is that OK, yet it’s not OK for someone else to take a travel blogger’s photo?”
She also now questions how much of her family she should share on social media, especially as a new mother.
“I’m really determined not to make something like this freak me out to the point of not embracing the beauty of the Internet and its connected, out-there-ness,” she said. “I really landed on the side of thinking it’s fun.”