The fact that Facebook photos are often accessible to the general public has spawned another lawsuit, this time from a Georgia college student who says a school district official swiped a photo of her in a bikini.
Chelsea Chaney, a freshman at the University of Georgia, was horrified to find out that the Director of Technology for Fayette County Schools used a photo of her standing next to a cardboard cutout of rap star Snoop Dog to demonstrate the dangers of posting questionable pictures on social media channels.
The director of technology paired the photo with the warning that, "Once it's there, it's there to stay."
Student “embarrassed,” “horrified”
Chaney told local ABC affiliate WSB-TV that when she was the photo, "I was embarrassed. I was horrified."
"It never crossed my mind that this would ever, ever happen to me," Chaney told the news channel.
Chaney’s lawyer, Pete Wellborn, told the affiliate that the school district “used [the photo] out of context to suggest that Chelsea is a promiscuous abuser of alcohol.”
"Their idea that putting something on Facebook gives them a license to steal it and Carte blanche to do with it what they did is wrong ethically, it's wrong morally and it's absolutely wrong legally," Wellborn told WSB-TV.
Chaney told WSB-TV that she wishes the photo “was taken more seriously and [I had] gotten a more sincere apology.”
Chaney is seeking $2 million in damages.
Facebook photo litigation nothing new
The suit is just the latest reminder that, yes, photos posted to Facebook can very easily end up plastered all over the Internet. The social media giant has been wrangling with a lawsuit concerning the company’s use of members’ photos to promote “sponsored stories.”
And last year, a Minnesota man sued an uncle for tagging him in a photo that he didn’t want others to see, coupled with a sarcastic caption. Aaron Olson, the aggrieved tagee, said the behavior constituted harassment.
Unfortunately for Olson, the judge hearing his case ruled that “[c]omments that are mean and disrespectful, coupled with innocuous family photos, do not affect a person’s safety, security, or privacy — and certainly not substantially so."