Defamation Lawsuit? – Unwanted Facebook Photo – Lulich Attorneys

Unwanted Facebook Photo: Invasion of Privacy?

Have you ever had an unwanted photo posted on Facebook? While Facebook offers the feature to “untag” the photo, this still doesn’t take the photo off of the social media site. Many people ask whether this is an invasion of privacy?

Pursuing legal action is somewhat of a “grey area,” since when the founding fathers created the constitution, they never imagined protecting privacy rights for a Facebook account.

Three potential claims exist if an unwanted photo has been posted on Facebook:

  1. Invasion of Privacy
  2. Violation of Right of Publicity
  3. Defamation

An individual’s Facebook presence has recently become increasingly important since employe

rs are notorious for checking a potential employee’s Facebook account. Therefore, many people are monitoring their accounts and in some circumstances seeking legal advice on what measures they can take for an unwanted photo post.

What happens if an unwanted photo is posted on Facebook of you?

 In a recent case, a lawsuit was brought against Facebook when Facebook began to promote Facebook accounts through its “sponsored stories” feature. Individuals won where in certain circumstances an individual or an individual’s child’s name or profile picture was featured on Facebook’s “sponsored stories.”

Therefore, these paid Ads containing names and pictures of Facebook users were able to be compensated as an invasion of privacy. The court found that the clear connection between the gained value of unwanted photos and their corresponding activities warranted for those people to be compensated.

Will Facebook do anything about your unwanted photo?

 Yes, in special circumstances Facebook will take action for an unwanted photo. Facebook will step in when the photo involves:

  1. Sexual Content
  2. Hate Speech
  3. Personal Attacks
  4. Violence
  5. Illegal Drugs

Invasion of Privacy

An invasion of privacy occurs when an individual is “portrayed falsely and in a highly offensive manner. There are greater interests for unwanted photos of children posted without their consent. The Children’s Online Privacy Act of 1998 serves to protect the interests of children on the internet.


It’s important to understand the copyright interests of a photo. The ownership of a photo follows the person taking the photo. Thus, this means that if an individual takes a photo on someone else’s phone, the person who took the photo is the person who has rights to that photo. Therefore, it would be a copyright violation if that photo is posted by someone else since the photographer has the rights to the photo.


Unfortunately, people who have suffered defamation as a result of an online presence are somewhat limited in the measures they can take. The Communications Decency Act passed by Congress has restricted these individuals from pursuing legal action against online sources such as Facebook, or Google.

The photo must contain a false statement since truth is a defense to a defamation suit. Additionally, if a photo is modified in an “absurd” way, this may warrant a defamation suit. If someone has posted a photo that contains a “false statement” or is “absurdly modified,” you should seek legal advice about whether you have a defamation suit.

Learn more about Social Media and Privacy Rights

If you are a victim of a photo posted of you on social media, you should consult one of our attorneys to determine if you have a potential claim. Click here for a Free Case Evaluation to learn more.