'People of SEPTA' Shows Unusual Moments As They Appear Online

'People of SEPTA' Shows Unusual Moments As They Appear Online

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Anyone who's ridden SEPTA probably has a story or two to share. Now, some of those mass transit moments are appearing online.

It's entertaining for some, but it's creating problems for law enforcement, and others say it's downright cruel.

FOX 29's Dave Kinchen introduces us to "The People of SEPTA."

If you take public transportation in the city, you are sure to see all sorts of things and there's much more captured on Smartphones and posted on social media like the infamous People of SEPTA Facebook page.

It's one of the biggest sources of digital sideshows with more than 80,000 likes and a humorous tagline, “What the El!?”

It shows pictures and videos of riders with unique looks and styles. It also shows several people in a phenomenon known as “dipping,” passing out and nearly falling out of their seats.

But some of the images are serious, cell phone video of a fight between two women on a bus.

In another clip, a man appears to inject something into his arm.

One video even started a national firestorm after being posted on "People of SEPTA. The video shows a little girl trying desperately to wake her mother who appears to be impaired on the trackless trolley on Frankford Ave.

Riders speculated the mother was high on drugs or alcohol. The video spread like wildfire online prompting Philadelphia Police and social services to get involved. They eventually took the daughter away from the mom.

Fox 29 showed the video to Dr. Frank Farley, head of Psychological Studies at Temple University.

"She seems to be the only individual trying to wake up her mother. Nobody's coming to help. Nobody's coming to help. Classic Bystander Effect. We see it a lot. Terrible things happen, people stand around and don't do anything about it," Dr. Farley said.

We also showed him a video which debuted on "People of SEPTA" in early May, the video was captured by Temple University PHD student. The video showed a man masturbating in the seat next to her on a crowded bus, which even included children.

Ida Goldkorn told Fox 29 she recorded the man thinking it would make him stop, but this exchange happened instead:

"When he started trying to back pedal and convince me that I wanted it in some way or that I should have moved or that it was my fault? On top of denying it to begin with that's what made me feel that it was ok to post it, to put it out there,” Goldkorn said.

Police found and arrested the man wanted for the lewd act.

Dr. Farley says this time around the website's videos played a positive role.

"In a sense it's using our contemporary handheld technologies to reveal important things that need to be corrected in the public sphere,"  Dr. Farley said.

But it's different for the images of overweight people, or people with a different lifestyle that may be seen as hurtful.

Fox 29’s Dave Kinchen asked him why people post such pictures.

"The fame game. If I can get something highly unusual, there's fame there," Dr. Farley said.

So, what should you do the next time you are on a SEPTA bus and see this? Dr. Farley says get involved when and where you can, but you should put your safety first.

"If you see someone videoing a homeless person talk to them and say you know," Why are you doing that? Why don't you just leave this person alone. They've got enough troubles without having their situation broadcast to the whole world," Dr. Farley said.

The founder of the website declined to comment on camera. They say they have been getting death threats ever since the page was published. However, they do say if a person complains about their picture online it will be taken down.

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