Kids Motherhood

18-Year-Old Sues Parents for Posting Inappropriate Photos on Facebook Without Her Consent: What This Means for Parents on Social Media

18-Year-Old Sues Parents for Posting Inappropriate Photos on Facebook Without Her Consent: What This Means for Parents on Social Media www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Emily Music

I’ll admit it- I’ve become one of those moms. Since the day my daughter was born, I’ve taken countless pictures and posted them to social media. She yawns, I snap a pic. She grins, and suddenly she’s my #womancrushwednesday. I #TBT to when she was three weeks old, and it’s two weeks later.

But what if one day my daughter becomes enraged when she finds out I’ve documented all her milestone moments on Facebook? Even worse, what if she feels so violated by my seemingly innocent posts that she sues me?

Sounds ridiculous, right? Kids don’t sue their parents over Facebook photos.

Well actually they do.

An 18-year-old Austrian girl has filed suit against her parents, alleging that their posting of pictures on Facebook- without her consent- has violated her personal rights. She claims that because the pictures depicted her in extremely personal, sometimes embarrassing, situations, she has suffered damages to her personal life.

Her parents claim that they took the photos, and therefore have every right to publish the images as little or often as they like. In addition, the parents have denied every request from their daughter to remove the pictures from Facebook.

The teenager told local reporters, “They knew no shame and no limit and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot – every stage was photographed and then made public.”

The case is set for trial in November, and there’s no doubt the social media world will be watching. Social media laws have been rapidly evolving over the past decade to catch up with the pace of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Some countries differ when it comes to valuing privacy. France, for example, has set strict consent standards when it comes to posting social media photos of minors.

Here in the United States, there’s little legal precedent when it comes to a child’s rights on social media. As the law stands, parents possess every right to post pictures of our children on social media as we please (at least the ones that aren’t clearly illegal- pornography, etc.). However, the law is constantly evolving to accommodate new trends in technology. Does this mean we will see a shift in social media law in the future?

Possibly. The issues of “reasonable expectation of privacy” and “lack of consent” have been discussed at length in other areas of American law, but social media laws are essentially uncharted territory. We can assume these issues will be brought to the forefront in the future; it’s only a matter of when.

In the mean time, what can we learn from this case, as parents who want to share pictures of our kiddos on Facebook?

1) Use common sense before posting pictures of your children online, and maybe even ask yourself some questions: Will my child be embarrassed by this photo later in life? Would this picture be a potential target for some sick pedophile? Am I crossing the line?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, avoid posting.

2) Being a stubborn parent can cost you. By simply deleting these photos, the parents of the Austrian teenager would have saved both time and money. Legal fees, regardless of where you live, are not cheap. Not to mention the long term rift this case will inevitably cause between the parents and child.

Moral of the story: If your child one day approaches you about deleting a photo you posted on social media, seriously consider granting that wish. 

About the author

Emily Music

Emily Music is an attorney turned stay at home momma living in Southern Ohio. She is the mother of a curly-headed toddler named Meredith, and wife to her Kentucky basketball enthusiast husband, Sean. Emily’s passions include writing for her blog at http://www.notyourbasicmom.com/, and traveling the country with her family. She gets by with a little help from her friends (and coffee).

13 Comments

  • I am constantly asking myself the question of how my child would feel, so I am pretty cautious. I also feel the same about writing. There is always a fine line between what to share and what not to share. I wonder how some bloggers and writers kids will feel someday knowing that the world knows so much about them. I am in no means perfect in this, it’s all a learning process, but definitely so important to think about. Such an important topic. Great post 🙂

  • It’s difficult for lawmakers to keep up with the rapidly changing pace of technology. I do think parents should use common sense when posting photos of their children, which many (unfortunately) seem to be lacking.
    xoxo, erin | sandsunandmessybuns.com

  • Wow! I wish I could say “I can’t believe this,” but in 2016, I totally can! Just sad it had to come to that!

  • When is doubt, leave it out. I never post a picture of someone who if I was in the same situation would want it posted. Some pictures are meant to be personal and I think it is sad that her parents would feel just because they took the pictures for themselves they had the right to post them and then deny when she asked to have them removed. I would hope their relationship with their daughter would be more important than posting a picture.

  • I always try to be choosy about the pictures I post of my children online. Some people are very critical and say that only happy moments on posted and that it doesn’t show what motherhood is truly like…..but I feel like if I posted a picture of my daughter throwing a tantrum, it would be embarrassing to her. Even though she’s only 2.

  • I am very picky about which photos of my son I post. It is very rare when I do actually post pictures and I’ve let my family know that I don’t want a lot of pics of my son on social media and they’ve seemed to comply. I don’t like my pics put online so I don’t want to post pics for someone that can’t make that decision for themself.

  • I find it very interesting that the parents wouldn’t take their child’s feeling into account. It seems more like those pictures seem to mean more than their child’s happiness.