Our second instalment of ‘Facebook and the Law’ examines the ‘privacy’ of private messages, questions how legal it is to Facebook the ‘hottie’ who has just arrived for an interview and looks at legacy issues of posting photographs online.
So just how ‘private’ are your private messages?
Is Employing Facebook legal?
Smile for the masses – your photos are fair game.
So just how private are all those embarrassing photographs you have tagged of yourself on Facebook? Well many an aspiring public figure or celebrity should be aware that the embarrassing photos of his/her drunken university days will be inevitably dug up by the tabloid press in the future, and here again, the myth that these photos are private should be taken with a pinch of salt. If a photo has been made widely available for people to see on Facebook, then the individuals concerned are unlikely to have any right of privacy in the picture, as it will have already been published to a potentially sizeable audience (potentially all of Facebook’s 20 million users). Effectively, your photos are in the public domain, and as such cannot be granted the title ‘private’. The rationale is this: If journalists do not know who the photographer or even the subject(s) of the picture are, but are still able to view the picture, it is hard to imagine how the picture could qualify as “private” in the eyes of the law. Of course, we are yet to see a case where Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (the right to private life) is evoked in relation to a newspaper or website printing a photo from Facebook without the permission of the subjects, and so again a definitive answer to this question for UK users of the site has yet to be offered by the courts.
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Both ‘Facebook and the Law’ contributions are from our resident legal expert who is very fond of his internet anonymity!