Chances are, we have all been “tagged” in photos on Facebook or other social media platforms that were not particularly flattering. And it is likely that the “tagger” did not ask our permission before publishing the photo and attaching our name to it. Many people, especially those younger than 30, take this sort of thing for granted, and would not even think to be offended by it. However, there seems to be an increasing sensitivity to unwanted “sharing” of photos among many Americans, with some going so far as to file lawsuits against “sharers” alleging invasion of privacy.
Our online profiles increasingly have an impact on all aspects of our lives, including employment and even dating. Potential employers are likely to search for all the information they can find about an applicant. An embarrassing picture on Facebook could be the difference between getting a job or remaining unemployed. As the issue of government surveillance continues to make headlines, Americans are paying more and more attention to their online profiles. The civil claim of invasion of privacy may provide a means for some folks to be compensated for losses stemming from unwanted publishing of photos and other information.
Invasion of Privacy as a Civil Claim
There are four claims that can lead to an invasion of privacy lawsuit. They are as follows:
1. Unwanted Intrusion upon Seclusion or Solitude: These usually arise from situations where someone is unknowingly photographed in a place in which he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and the photos are then published online or elsewhere. Under some circumstances, this could apply to social media.
2. Appropriation of Name or Likeness: Usually these involve the unauthorized use of a celebrity’s name or likeness. However, there was a famous successful lawsuit against Facebook that arose under this claim.
3. Publicity or Disclosure of Private Facts about Life: Someone shares information about a person that a reasonable person would consider extremely private and offensive if disclosed. This could arise if the caption of a photo included private information about one of the photographed parties.
4. False Light: If the photo is false or misleading (such as if it has been Photoshopped) and would be offensive to a reasonable person, a claim could arise here.
If someone has posted an unflattering photo of you without your permission, your first step should probably be to ask the person to take the photo down. If they do so in a timely manner, it may prevent both embarrassment for you and costly legal fees for both of you. However, if they refuse to take it down, it may be time to look into pursuing legal action under one of the claims above.
What to do if you are the Victim of Online Invasion of Privacy
If your online privacy has been invaded and you feel that you deserve compensation, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve.