Though we all cherish our privacy, the truth is that the digital age has increasingly invited oversharing and opened us up to prying eyes. But there’s a significant difference between curious online investigating and digital invasion of privacy, which represents a frightening shift from the more traditional forms of physical invasion or surveillance to far-reaching disclosure of private facts, appropriation of a name or likeness, or a false portrayal that goes viral.
The news has been filled with lawsuits against social media companies being sued for privacy violations, as their collection and sharing of user data has raised significant concerns. It’s about more than those creepy internet ads that seem to be following all of us around: as social media sites collect information about users’ race, ethnicity, sexuality, or other sensitive identifiers, people may end up at risk: a recent news story detailed a data leak from a genetic testing site resulted in the black market sale of at least one million data profiles of people with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and hundreds of thousands of individuals with Chinese ancestry. A class action lawsuit is underway as a result of the breach, and the company has revised its terms to make it more difficult for victims of invasion of privacy to take legal action against them.
Beyond the risk of data breaches, social media poses additional privacy risks. Social media can be used for cyberbullying or harassment, and sites that include geotracking of users can lead to their location being shared and subjecting people to their whereabouts being tracked. Even Elon Musk was a victim of this, and unsuccessfully attempted to take legal action to stop a college student from posting tracking information about the whereabouts of his jet.
Among the most disturbing forms of invasion of privacy the internet has introduced is the creation of false social media identities, pages, posts, or websites that take personal information to spread misinformation or embarrass an individual.
As Americans, we have the right to be left alone, and the publication of our personal information or misappropriation of our data or image can warrant legal action, especially if it is used in a way that causes emotional injury or pain, loss of reputation, or monetary loss. If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys about a social media issue, contact us today to set up an appointment.