These days, selfies pose much bigger problems than simply being an irksome presence on social media feeds. Imagine going to some of the most picturesque places in the world only to find your view is completely blocked by tourists wielding giant poles attached to their cell phones. If you think a phone ringing during a movie is a big annoyance, imagine watching your favorite band perform live, only to have your view obscured by clunky electronic devices held up in the air.
Almost overnight, the selfie stick became a global phenomenon and its viral popularity seemed as unstoppable as the selfie itself. At famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower, you can expect to see throngs of tourists swinging their big sticks around and posing for countless pictures. For these reasons, certain landmarks, amusement parks, national parks and other major venues have banned the use of selfie sticks. In a few places, taking a selfie is not allowed either. For the most part, concerns regarding public safety have lead to the prohibition of these devices. Not surprising, especially when you take a new trend involving high-risk selfies into consideration. A number of accidental selfie-related deaths have occurred recently. Last year, a Polish couple visiting the Cabo Da Roca cliffs in Portugal fell to their deaths after a selfie attempt went terribly wrong. This summer, a Russian woman also died after falling from a bridge while trying to take a picture of herself in Moscow.
Here are some places in the world that have banned selfie sticks, including a few that have banned selfies altogether.
10 Pamplona, Spain
The Spanish government doesn’t want to see any daredevils gored or trampled to death by a bull while trying to take an epic selfie. For that reason, officials in Pamplona have issued an outright ban on selfies during the Running of the Bulls Festival, which draws thousands of foreign participants each year. The current law states that anyone caught taking photos or filming during the event could be fined up to $2,050.
At last year’s ceremony, a British man snapped a forbidden selfie while he was running, which showed the bulls just inches behind him. That photo went viral and Spanish officials issued an international manhunt for the runner, eventually fining him $4,100 (3,000 Euros) for taking the infamous photo.
9 New York - Tiger Selfies
New York is the first U.S. state to make posing with a lion, tiger or other big cat illegal. The new law came into effect after a disturbing number of “tiger selfies” appeared on the online-dating app Tinder.
Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal says she proposed the bill to prevent animal exploitation and increase pubic safety at traveling circuses and county fairs, where visitors are sometimes allowed to get in close proximity to big cats.
Over the past 15 years, there have been seven instances of a tiger escaping from captivity in New York and injuring a person. Anyone caught touching a big cat, or cuddling with a little cub, will face up to a $500 fine. The weird law was the inspiration for an even wackier Tumblr blog called “Tinder Guys with Tigers.” The theme is pretty self-explanatory.
8 Lake Tahoe
If you can’t lure potential mates online with a tiger selfie, perhaps a photo with a bear is more impressive. The Taylor Creek Visitor Center in South Lake Tahoe is advising visitors not to take photos of wildlife, particularly the bears. Lisa Herron, a spokesperson for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, says an alarming number people have actually approached the bears and tried to take a selfie with them. Herron fears such aggressive behavior will result in an attack. Just to reiterate: Bum-rushing wild animals, then turning your back to them in order to take a goofy selfie, is not a good idea.
Soccer players, coaches and other staff members on Iran’s soccer team are forbidden to pose for photos with female fans. As a rule, women are already banned from attending men’s sporting events in the Islamic republic. However, in countries where no such rule applies, thousands of female fans come out to show their support.
Ali Akbar Mohamedzade, the head of the Iranian Football Federation's moral committee, issued the warning in January. It came after photos of Iranian footballers, seen posing for selfies with female fans during the Asian Cup, began circulating online. Mohamedzade fears that the photos could be misrepresented or used as a political tool. He also says the moral committee will take action if Iranian players don’t adhere to the rule. No details have been provided on what type of punishment a player could face if caught on camera with a female fan.
6 Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Each year, at least a million people make the spiritual pilgrimage to Mecca. Visitors are encouraged to engage in self-reflection, not to be confused with selfie-taking. While the use of cell phones is permitted, mainly for safety reasons, some Muslim clerics are asking worshipers to refrain from snapping selfies during the Hajj. It has become a trend among the younger generation to document their pilgrimage, often taking photos of themselves in the Grand Mosque and in front of other sacred sites. Zahra Mohammad, an Islamic Studies teacher based in Riyadh, says that taking a selfie is not only distracting, it goes against the modest behavior and tranquil atmosphere that is expected at Mecca.
5 Garoupe, France
On a popular beach in Southern France, there are sections that have been officially declared “No Braggie Zones.” After a research study revealed that one-third of British travelers surveyed said bragging about their vacations was one of their favorite things to do on holiday, the beach decided to establish selfie-free zones. Tourism advocates want guests to truly enjoy themselves and live in the moment. While selfies are not prohibited on the entire beach, two sections have been designated as anti-spam areas. Signs have been posted to indicate which spots are “No Braggie Zones." There is even a team of enforcers known as the “Holiday Spam Police" who scour the beaches and hand out violations to anyone caught mid-selfie.
4 South Korea
While selfies are still legal in South Korea, the government is trying to crack down on the sale of unregulated selfie sticks. Officials have classified selfie sticks as “communication equipment,” which means they have to be tested and certified according to federal regulations. More than just a narcissistic nuisance, South Korea has serious concerns about the devices. Since selfie sticks are connected to smartphones via Bluebooth, they could tap into personal data. The Bluetooth signal could also interfere with other nearby devices including cell phones and hospital equipment. Anyone caught selling an uncertified selfie stick in South Korea could face three years in prison or a $27,000 fine.
3 United Kingdom Voting Booths
Many countries are divided on another controversial selfie trend: taking photos inside voting booths. These types of shots have been nicknamed “boothies.” The Netherlands fully embraces the trend and encourages its citizens to use social media during the voting process.
On the flip side, Belgium and South Africa have outlawed “boothies.” In many countries, it’s against the law for an individual to reveal the security number on his or her ballot. It’s also illegal to reveal whom you voted for.
To maintain privacy during elections, the UK’s Electoral Commission warned people that anyone who posts a photo of themselves and their ballot can face hefty penalties: 6 months in jail or a fine up to 5,000 Euros.
2 Various Music Venues Worldwide
Selfie sticks have been banned from some of Britain's biggest music venues, including London's O2 Arena, O2 Academy Brixton and the SSE Wembley Arena. Larger devices such as iPads and tablets have also been banned because they are considered visual obstructions.
This year, Coachella and Lollapalooza became some of the first music festivals to prohibit selfie sticks on their grounds. On an extensive list of banned items, which includes laser pointers and totems, Coachella dubbed them “narcissistics.”
Live music fans are still welcome to take photos with small cameras at these venues, but blocking the view with a three-foot pole is just not cool, man.
For selfie stick aficionados, Disney Land may now be the unhappiest place on earth. As of July, Disney issued a ban on selfie sticks in all of its theme parks. The rule went into effect shortly after a passenger on a roller coaster at Disney California Adventure Park pulled out a selfie stick mid-ride. Operators had to stop the roller coaster, leaving some frustrated riders stuck in a carriage for almost an hour. Selfie sticks are not simply an annoyance in amusement parks, the gadgets also pose a big threat to safety. Since the long arm can reach beyond the carriage, it could get caught in a ride’s mechanism.