Do you know what your social media posts are protected under? Social media has become a way of life for many people. Some may even call it an addiction. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter have all made their mark on the world in one way or another. And with that comes regulation that is used to protect us from certain parts of our lives being shared without our consent. But do these regulations apply to social media posts? Let’s take a look at some examples and find out more about this issue.
Note: This post isn’t meant to be law advice. It is just my thoughts.
Social Media Privacy Laws
The laws around privacy are always changing as technology advances, but there are two main laws currently in place for both the US and Canada: The Privacy Act of 1974 and Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
These laws state that information gathered about someone for one purpose cannot be used for another and that in some cases the subject of this data must be informed when their personal information is shared.
The general idea behind these regulations is to protect your privacy, but what would happen if your social media posts were public? Do they fall under these regulations if someone else uses them in a way you do not consent to?
Let’s consider three cases: individuals who post on Twitter, Instagram models posting photos of themselves under their given name or username, and an individual with a large following sharing memes containing celebrities’ faces.
Posting on Twitter
If we’re just talking about general posts on Twitter, these would fall under the Privacy Act of 1974 because they are about an identifiable person. The act states that it is illegal to share any information about someone without their consent. This includes revealing personal details or sharing images of them in a private setting. We can presume that most people who sign up for Twitter do so with the understanding that their posts may be public, but not everyone does this intentionally.
Hence why it’s important to understand what your social media accounts are tied to before signing up. Social media accounts fall under agreement terms and conditions when you create them, and there are several sites dedicated to helping people understand exactly what these terms mean when put into practice. Reading through documents will help you decide whether or not you’d like your posts to be public or private.
For example, Twitter has a feature called “Protect my Tweets” that allows users to require an extra step of verification when someone tries to get your information from their site. This can make it harder for people trying to get information illegally under the Privacy Act of 1974. Also, this means that even if someone hacks into your account and gets access to some personal details, they cannot use them publicly unless they reveal their unlawful actions. With this method in place on all major social media sites, you should always read agreement terms and conditions before signing up. Instagram Models Under their Given Name
If we’re talking about models who share photos of themselves with permission from the photo owner under their given name, these would fall under PIPEDA. This law states that if a company compiles information about an individual for a goal, it cannot be used in any way not connected to that objective without permission from the subject of the data. In this case, models could request a copy of all public photos containing them which they can then sign over to themselves legally. Also, companies who obtain photos from Instagram or other sites must make sure that they have consent from the photographer and subject before publishing them .
One thing worth noting here is that you cannot claim copyright on anything people post online unless you take your own photo. This means anyone else can repost it as long as their terms state users are allowed to do so.
An individual with a large followers sharing memes
If you’re an individual with a large followers sharing memes containing other people’s images, these would not fall under any of the current privacy regulations that protect individuals. The issue here is that no one owns their image or likeness on the internet besides themselves, so they cannot legally claim copyright over what others post. This means anyone can use someone else’s photos as long as it’s for non-commercial purposes and without posing any harm to the subject of the photo.
The reason this type of information falls outside these laws is because it does not directly affect the subject of the photo in question. Therefore even if someone posts your face on social media without your consent, you have no legal right to stop them from doing so. This is why social media platforms are trying to crack down on the use of others’ content without permission under their terms and conditions.
So while it may still be ethical to ask for this type of post to be removed, the only way you could do so legally would be if someone shared your likeness in a way that defamed you. But even then, it would depend on the country and its definition of defamation towards individuals with disabilities. For example, most sites give users worldwide license to share their name and images but only Australia has laws regarding biographical information.
In short, yes – all three types of social media posts referenced here fall within current privacy regulations as long as you read the terms and conditions of each site. The only exception to this would be if someone shared your images or likeness in a way that defamed you. In that case, it would depend on the location of the user and the country’s definition of defamation towards people with disabilities.