WTVM Legal Break – Photos on Social Media

Injury & Accident Attorney Serving Nearby Areas of Columbus & Fort Benning, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama

Gary Bruce discusses the use of photos on social media and your rights regarding privacy. The prevalence of social media is creating new problems in this day when everyone has a camera. Gary explains that posting photos on social media of someone who has a reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g., in a gym locker room) might very well give rise to a cause of action for damages. Gary points out the importance in respecting the privacy of others and having common sense about what you post. He also points out that what you do in a public arena might not be objectionable and is could be fair game on social media.

Since there is arguably no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public setting, such as a concert, you have no claim if you are depicted in a photo, unless, the photo is used for profit by someone else. If you have been the victim of this type of private disclosure or you have questions about another types of claims which resulted in harm or damages, please call our office to discuss the matter and schedule a free, in-person consultation.


Maureen: Hello there, and welcome to Legal Break. I’m Maureen Akers, and with us today Gary Bruce, as always, thank you so much for joining us again Gary!

Gary: Thanks for having me, thank you.

Maureen: Well this week we’ve got a pretty interesting conversation to talk about, something that’s in the news that we might see more and more. A lady was at a gym or a spa, and she took a picture of somebody, and then posted it on social media and kind of body shamed her, if you will. What do you do? I mean what are our rights as a citizen?

Gary: Well the question, I guess, is who can I put on social media? Who can I take a picture of and when can I post it, and am I going to get in trouble for doing it? The situation you’re talking about apparently took place in a locker room. She took a picture of a lady where there should be an expectation of privacy. You know you wouldn’t expect photos to be taken of you when you’re disrobing, so I think she’s got problems on that one. But if you just are at an event, like say you’re downtown at a concert, and you take pictures and people get put into pictures, you can post those. There there’s no expectation of privacy there at a public event a private event. Now if you use that public event photograph to promote your business, to make money in some way, or to appropriate your likeness of an endorsement, now you have problems again. So, you know, for the most part the innocent kind of pictures people take are fine, but you got to be careful not to invade people’s space and use some common sense. I think the law kind of recognizes the common sense.

Maureen: Right, so there’s probably a case here.

Gary: Oh I think she’s got issues because you just can’t do that. You can’t take pictures of people that are naked, like a peeping Tom kind of thing, you can’t do that. Some people have said Georgia apparently has a law along this lines that hadn’t been enacted yet, but they’re saying don’t put children on social media. I can’t take a picture of your child and post it to the social network. Well that makes sense, but parents can or there wouldn’t be anything on social media, I think parents can do that with their own children, but otherwise you have to have consent. And you can always put somebody on there if they consent to it.

Maureen: So say I’m this person, I’m in a locker room and I happen to catch somebody taking a picture. Should I approach them, should I say something to them?

Gary: Well that’s probably the better thing to do than to wait for it to become a legal situation. If you can say, “look I’m not going to be happy about this and please don’t post that”, I think that’s probably the pre-emptive thing to do because you would have legal rights. Now you’re still gonna have to prove damages – you’re still going to have to prove that what they did was an invasion of privacy, so there’s a lot of hurdles even in what seems to be a pretty straightforward case.

Maureen: Yeah, interesting topic, I’m sure will see more on that to come. Thank you so much for joining us on Legal Break today Gary, and I look forward to seeing you on the very next one!