from the family-court dept
When we talk about young people filing lawsuits over "oversharing" of information and/or media on social media sites, schools are typically the targets of the suits. Inevitably, whether school personnel originally sought access to a student's social media accounts for good intentions or simply to be a slut-shaming dick, the contents within the accounts are then weaponized for humiliation purposes.
But a recent lawsuit filed by an eighteen year old woman in Austria must have parents the world over wincing. At issue wasn't some random person or school official attempting to shame the girl. It was just her parents' sharing photos of a family member and now they face a lawsuit.
A 18-year-old woman from Carinthia is suing her parents for posting photos of her on Facebook without her consent. She claims that since 2009 they have made her life a misery by constantly posting hundreds of photos of her, including embarrassing and intimate images from her childhood.
Legal expert Michael Rami was quoted by Austrian media as saying he believes she has a good chance of winning in court. The shared images include baby pictures of her having her nappy changed and later potty training pictures.
As a relatively new parent myself, I can assure you I'm paying attention. I haven't shared anything so intimate as potty-training photos of my two boys on social media, mind you, but who is to say what pictures my grown-up son might eventually come to feel is embarrassing? In the age of social media, I would think it's only pictures of our children that out-mass pictures of our food among those we share with our followers and friends. Well-meaning as we all might be, what happens if courts ill-prepared to tackle these kinds of disputes suddenly render this family sharing tortious?
To be fair to the young lady in question, it appears that her parents turned something of a deaf ear to her non-litigious complaints.
Despite her requests, they have refused to delete the photos - prompting her to sue them. "I'm tired of not being taken seriously by my parents", she said. Her father believes that since he took the photos he has the right to publish the images.
Because of our writing topics here at Techdirt, I'm basically thinking about intellectual property roughly all the time, but even I am having trouble imagining myself asserting this kind of defense as a father. I can imagine how frustrated the young lady must be at the callous attitude her parents have taken. But does it amount to something worthy of a lawsuit?
Well, Austrian law isn't as strict on matters of privacy and social media as other nations. As the article notes, the French government has gone so far as to warn parents against sharing photos of their children for fear of the social repercussions for them later in life. There's way too much hand-wringing in that kind of stance for my taste, but I can also see their point. I would hope, however, that the question comes down to delineating what qualifies as embarrassing content and what doesn't, rather than relying on any individual's interpretation. Otherwise, the courts could be a mess for a long time coming.