News Anchor Suing Facebook and Reddit After Security Camera Photo Is Used for Erectile Dysfunction Ads and on Pornographic Sites

News Anchor Suing Facebook and Reddit After Security Camera Photo Is Used for Erectile Dysfunction Ads and on Pornographic Sites

A huge new lawsuit has been lodged against a number of the world’s biggest social media sites, including Facebook and Reddit, by a newsreader in Philadelphia. It was filed after she spotted a security camera photo of herself being used for dating and erectile dysfunction adverts on the platforms.

As per The Verge, Philadelphia Fox 29 News anchor Karen Hepp names Facebook, Giphy, Imgur, Reddit, and pornography site XNXX in the suit. She states that her “Right of Publicity” has been violated, which has caused “irreparable harm from the dissemination and publication of her image on various commercial websites.” The image in question was used in adverts that appeared on the aforementioned social media platforms, but for various purposes. On Facebook, it was for meet-ups with “single women,” while on XNXX and Imgur it appeared in galleries and photo tags of a sexually explicit nature. It also featured in an erectile dysfunction advert, and a subreddit devoted to sexual photos of older women.

Hepp v. Facebook et al by Adi Robertson on Scribd

Hepp is attempting to give the platforms no choice but to remove the image, and requests damage in an amount “not yet determined […] including actual damages, reputational damages, and/or Defendants’ profits in an amount in excess of $10,000,000,” plus attorney fees.

However, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act states that corporations generally can’t be held accountable for content posted to their site by its users. Although the image appeared on Reddit, for example, it was done so by members of the site, and not admin, thus legally removing the liability from Reddit. She would need to target the individual poster of the image.

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8 Comments

Nicholas K's picture

The rule that sites are not responsible for user-generated content is only true if they can demonstrate that they don't act as publishers. There's a damn good case that most social media sites are, in fact, now publishers. Particularly for Facebook which is publishing paid ads with the image in it. I wouldn't be so sure that the 1990s nonsense of absolute immunity for websites is going to continue for much longer.

Jonathan Levy's picture

What do you mean "act as publishers." The law says: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider". If you mean that providers loses immunity if they moderate content or enforce guidelines, that's really not the case.

Nicholas K's picture

No, it's the act of curated content which is the differentiation. And you don't have to look very hard to find this as a legal argument online. I am sad you can't Google for anything but things that make you feel clever but it's all there anyway.

"However, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act states that corporations generally can’t be held accountable for content posted to their site by its users."

Funny how that doesn't hold true if you use copyrighted music in your YouTube video you post to YouTube.
The law hates double standards like that.

My first reaction is that there's no mention of laying blame at the party who actually controls the security camera, which to me seems a little weird. I'm not saying that some sites shouldn't perhaps review the criteria for how an image makes it onto their platform, but the fact that everybody involved in the suit is kind of tertiary AND has deep pockets smells funny.

With that in mind I decided to look a little further, and found this article:

https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/340401/good-day-philadelp...

I'm sorry but what security camera is eye height in the middle of a convenience store and shoots tight enough for a portrait? Even if you tried to argue that the image is cropped way in, why would somebody be making direct eye contact and smiling to a camera way back on a wall somewhere? This looks like it was shot with a cell phone by somebody that she was posing for. Not that this excuses her likeness being used for advertising without her permission, but the story itself doesn't add up yet.

I'm not much for conspiracy theories and maybe there's a legitimate explanation for all of this, but there appear to be a lot of unanswered questions here.

What's Ereticle?

🤔 must be a new dance!! 😂

Yes, and goes great with this Paul McCartney song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxmQxiNPgDQ