No, ‘volcano selfies’ are not a good idea (especially during eruptions)

no volcano selfies are not a good idea hawaii volcanoes national park nps janice wei
National Park Service Photo/Janice Wei

Grabbing a picture or fifty for your Instagram followers is all part of modern-day life, but going out of your way to grab that money shot isn’t always such a great idea.

A report from the Royal Geographical Society this week suggests an increasing number of people are even making special travel plans with the sole aim of bagging that eye-catching shot, though the adventure can sometimes turn into something of a nightmare.

University of Cambridge geographer Amy Donovan, who wrote the report, notes how an increasing number of people are flying around the world as soon as they hear about a volcano blowing its top, with Iceland a particularly popular spot thanks to its abundance of geological activity.

But this so-called “volcano tourism” carries with it a number of risks, especially when those visitors have little experience of how volcanic activity can impact the surrounding area.

While Donovan says she totally understands the lure of the volcano, she also points out how people often unwittingly place themselves in danger by getting up close to this formidable force of nature.

“You can breathe the gas, hear the sounds the earth is making. They want to get closer to feel the power of the earth,” the geographer told the BBC.

The dangers of getting up close to an erupting volcano, in case you didn’t already know, include getting hit by falling rocks and lava bombs, becoming enveloped in choking dust, or being overcome by poisonous fumes. There’s also a risk of becoming trapped by lava flows, which almost happened to these folks in Hawaii earlier this year.

Donovan suggested that the uptick in so-called “volcano tourism” could be partly down to the proliferation of smartphones and social media, with people keen to photograph or record video of themselves in dramatic, active landscapes.

And when things go wrong for tourists who are close to volcanoes, it of course puts the lives of rescuers at risk, too, Donovan pointed out.

“Many active volcanic countries face the dilemma of wanting tourists, but also wanting to keep people safe, which creates a difficult conundrum,” Donovan said, adding, “People break safety regulations. You can’t police the site of a volcano at night.”

A BBC production crew, along with dozens of tourists, had a lucky escape on Mount Etna in Italy in 2017 when the volcano suddenly erupted while the crew was filming. There was no warning about what was about to happen, but the BBC’s dramatic footage clearly shows the panic that ensued when the eruption began.

In a bid to prevent the more reckless selfie enthusiasts from harming themselves, the authorities in India have been banning selfies in popular tourist spots where accidents have occurred in the past, such as the top of cliffs.


Data breach compromises 773 million records, 21 million passwords

A security researcher was alerted to a collection of breached data that included more than 773 million compromised records. After digging deeper, the breach was revealed to contain more than 21 million passwords.

Get extra life with our tips and tricks for 'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe'

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a much more difficult game than you'd believe based on its adorable art style and 2D perspective. Here's how you can master the game's toughest challenges.
Movies & TV

From premiere date to footage: Here's all we have on 'Game of Thrones' season 8

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Social Media

Instagram now lets you post to multiple accounts in one tap

Instagram for iPhone now lets you post to multiple accounts at the same time. It's not the regram feature that many users have been asking for, but it could prove useful for some users who manage more than one profile.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.