Earlier this month, hundreds of thousands of Twitter users liked and retweeted a series of posts documenting what happened when two strangers met on an airplane, and seemingly made a romantic connection — but while many saw the exchange as a modern love story, the woman at the center of the saga felt it was an invasion of privacy.
In a statement to Business Insider, the woman, who chose to remain anonymous, spoke out about how her private conversation became a very public story without her consent.
“I am a young professional woman. On July 2, I took a commercial flight from New York to Dallas. Without my knowledge or consent, other passengers photographed me and recorded my conversation with a seatmate. They posted images and recordings to social media, and speculated unfairly about my private conduct,” she said in a statement provided to the outlet by her lawyer.
“Since then, my personal information has been widely distributed online. Strangers publicly discussed my private life based on patently false information. I have been doxxed, shamed, insulted and harassed,” she added.
“I did not ask for and do not seek attention. #PlaneBae is not a romance – it is a digital-age cautionary tale about privacy, identity, ethics and consent,” she continued, before asking people to “respect my privacy, and my desire to remain anonymous.”
On July 2, Twitter user Rosey Blair and her boyfriend documented the interaction, which began after Blair asked the woman to switch seats with her so that she could sit next to her boyfriend.
While the man involved in the saga — a professional soccer player-turned-model named Euan Holden — embraced his involvement in the viral moment, speaking to the Today show about their interaction, the woman did not, prompting Blair to encourage social media users to find her, according to TIME.
“When I made this and shared it, I was happy, joyful and overcome with authentic and sincere excitement. So much so that I could not see the potential exploitative nature of the outcome and my actions” she wrote in a statement shared on her Twitter account.
“The last thing I want to do is to remove agency and autonomy from another woman,” she added, before admitting that while “I wish I could communicate the shame I feel in having done this,” the damage had already been done.
While some social media users criticized Blair for mentioning the woman’s name in the apology, Blair wrote in a reply to the tweet that she had been given permission by the woman.
Holden also released a YouTube video documenting his thoughts on the matter, sharing that while at first he “laughed” about the #PlaneBae saga, he wished people had respected his seatmate’s right to privacy.
“It’s sad. It put a damper on the week that all it took was a few individuals so anxious and excited to find out more that they went to the depths of really searching to find and reveal the identity of someone who didn’t want to be found. It’s sad really,” he said.
He added: “I hope that this story, if nothing else, can shine a light on the topic of privacy. And I think in this day and age, there’s a lot of people on the fence about not knowing what’s right and what’s wrong, so hopefully this can create a platform for positive talks and ultimately [be] a step in the right direction.”