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Revenge Porn Lawsuit May Open “Floodgate” of Lawsuits against Social Media Websites
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Summary: A lawsuit filed by a 14-year-old has the potential to open a “floodgate” of revenge porn lawsuits against social media websites. 

A 14-year-old sued Facebook because a naked picture of her appeared on the social media site. According to The Guardian, the case could “open the floodgates for other civil claims” involving revenge pornography.

  
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The victim filed the lawsuit in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A naked picture of her repeatedly appeared on a Facebook “shame page” because someone wanted to enact revenge on her, and she claims that the social media site was liable. If Facebook loses the case, this could result in a seismic change in how social media companies deal with explicit content.

The case is likely to be heard next year. According to The Guardian, the victim is suing for misuses of private information, negligence, and breach of the Data Protection Act. She is also suing the man who allegedly posted the nude.

The victim’s lawyer said that the photograph was obtained through blackmail and then uploaded to Facebook multiple times. While it was reported and removed, it was never permanently blocked.

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According to Paul Tweed of law firm Johnsons, the case has inspired other victims of revenge porn to seek legal advice.

Tweed told The Guardian, “A case like this risks opening the floodgates for other civil cases to be taken against Facebook and other social media sites. We’ve already seen an increase in the number of people calling to find out more. I can see it being a very real problem for all the social media sites going forward.”



A lawyer for Facebook said that the claim for damages should be dismissed because the photo was removed every time it was reported. They referenced a European law that protected the website from having to monitor its vast amount of content.

Additionally, Facebook pointed out that they have strict community standards that forbid nudity and sexual exploitation.

Currently, Facebook has software in place to ban child abuse images, but in the case of revenge porn pictures, they wait until the image is reported before they can remove them. Critics argue that since Facebook uses technology to catch one type of explicit material they have the ability to stop revenge porn before it is uploaded.

John Carr told the Guardian that although Facebook should police content, the legality of it is messy. Under current EU law, a social media website is immune to what its users post as long as it responds swiftly to reported content. According to Carr, under current law, if Facebook were to try to editorialize its content, then it could potentially be responsible for bad images it missed.

“We need a specific law saying that if companies try and prevent bad content, they won’t lose their immunity if they don’t always get it right,” Carr said.

Source: The Guardian

Photo courtesy of QZ



 

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