Big Data Law regularly acts for individuals seeking to remove indecent images and harmful messages from Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. Our London-based solicitors have the experience and connections to do this effectively. But it has often been a painstaking and frustrating process. We have found ourselves confronted by large organisations that — until now – have shown themselves less than willing to act with any sense of urgency to excise material when requested. This is material that is often a blatant misuse of private information and which contravenes data protection legislation. A case reported from Belfast this week however could mean the attitude of social media companies to dealing with offending material is undergoing dramatic change.

14-YEAR OLD GIRL AND FACEBOOK SETTLE CASE

In the Belfast case Facebook reached an out of court settlement with a young girl who claimed the posting of a photograph was negligent and breached the Data Protection Act.

For 18 months between 2014 and 2016 a naked image of the girl was shared multiple times on the social media platform. With the police seemingly unable to act, the girl began proceedings against the person she believed had posted the material – as well as the social media giant.

While Facebook did take down the offending image relatively soon after becoming aware of it, the girl’s solicitor argued that the company did not take the necessary action to prevent it being shared and reposted.

Despite defending the case and trying to have the claim against it dismissed, Facebook ultimately reached a settlement with the girl.

It’s important to point out that Facebook has not admitted liability. In a statement it said,

“..for legal reasons, we are only at liberty to state that no judgement has been rendered in this case and that there has been no determination of any actual or potential liability for Facebook”.

 

ANALYSIS: A SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT FOR VICTIMS OF INDECENT SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT

Although there has been no legal finding in the case we believe the development is significant.  While some individuals have tried to mount this kind of challenge against Facebook and others before, it is the first time a settlement of this kind has been reached.

This is a fast-moving area of law. It has just been revealed that American YouTube star Chrissy Chambers has reached an unprecedented settlement, not with a social media company but against an individual – her ex boyfriend. He had posted so-called ‘revenge pornography’ videos of her online. It is the first case of its kind and according to reports involved payment of substantial damages.

In our recent experience we have found publishers of indecent or private  images more responsive to our formal requests for image removal. Whether this is related to the Belfast case and the Chrissy Chambers case or not is impossible to say. But there’s no doubt that, with these settlements anyone concerned about images or other material on social media have more tools than before to use in any fight to have offending material removed.

If you have been the victim of offensive posts it is essential to act quickly to minimise any potential harm to you and your family, particularly if the perpetrator is not known. Big Data Law is a specialist data protection law firm in London. We focus on matters such as social media monitoring, take down notices and removal of harmful and indecent images. We act regularly for high profile clients with a lot to lose from misuse of their private data.

You can contact us by calling 0203 670 5540 or Shubha Nath on 07545 813 894 or by completing the online enquiry form.

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LAWYER PROFILE

Shubha Nath is director of Nath Solicitors, a boutique London law firm specialising in commercial contracts, company laws (formation/shareholder matters/M&A) and private and commercial dispute resolution.


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Shubha Nath
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