Newspaper websites are tapping into a curious cultural fascination: mug shots. You do not have to commit a serious offense, you do not have to be convicted, and you do not even have to be a public figure. Just get arrested—no charge is too small—and the head shot taken at the police station when you get booked could be indefinitely immortalized on your local newspaper’s website Mug shot galleries are growing in popularity as newspapers seek more Web traffic and the advertising revenue that accompanies it.
While the sites are based entirely on public information, these galleries do not tell who has been convicted of a crime or had their charges dropped. These sites raise ethical questions. Are they serving the public good? Or is this voyeurism or infotainment? Can Michel Foucault’s work, particularly in Society Must Be Defended, shed light on the digital subject? How does the creation of the digital criminal profile connect to the idea that society must be defended? This paper outlines best practices newspapers should follow.