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.