News Anchor Sues Top Social Media Companies Over Inappropriate Use of Photo in Advertisements
A local news anchor in Philadelphia is absolutely livid over the use of a security cam photo taken of her that’s being used in ads on social media for dating sites. So livid, in fact, that she’s suing some of the big names in social media like Reddit, Facebook, Imgur, and Giphy over the advertisements.
The Right of Publicity in Advertisements
The Verge was the first to report the story on Philadelphia Fox 29 news anchor Karen Hepp. Hepp had recently noticed someone familiar appearing in scummy dating ads running on popular social media websites. That someone was her. When she made the discovery, she was furious! So she got lawyers involved and filed a lawsuit against sites like Giphy, Reddit, Facebook, and even another less desirable media outlet…
There’s something called “Right of Publicity” under Pennsylvania state law that Hepp states these companies violated, and that they’ve “caused irreparable harm from the dissemination and publication of her image on various commercial websites.”
The ads range from “meetups with single women” to erectile dysfunction. Some of the ads were even run on Imgur albums marked with sexually explicit content tags. Hepp doesn’t know when these ads started popping up, but she’s definitely not happy about it.
The lawsuit Hepp filed is demanding that these ads using her photo are taken down immediately and that these social media companies pay “damages… in an amount not yet determined, including actual damages, reputational damages, and/or Defendants’ profits in an amount in excess of $10,000,000.”
You can read the full lawsuit here.
Unfortunately, this lawsuit might not pan out like Hepp wants it to. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act states that content posted by a websites’ users is not the responsibility of the website in question. Hepp is most likely going to have to go after the creator of the ads if she wants to recoup any damages she seeks, but who knows how long that could take. The creators of these ads might not even be in America…
She might manage to get some ads taken down, though. But will that really help? Or will it only add to the popularity of the ad in question?