Internet Law

School used student's Facebook photo to illustrate how embarrassing posts never die, suit says

A Georgia school district administrator plucked a senior’s bikini photo from Facebook to illustrate the risks of posting pictures on the Internet, according to a $2 million privacy lawsuit filed by the teen.

Chelsea Chaney told WSBTV she was embarrassed and horrified when the Fayette County School District used her photo and name in a PowerPoint slide titled “Once it’s there, it’s there to stay.” The family vacation photo showed Chaney wearing a bikini next to a photo cutout of the rapper then known as Snoop Dogg. The Athens Banner-Herald and the Huffington Post also have stories on the lawsuit, filed this spring.

The photo was used in a community awareness seminar, and also appeared in a handout for those who attended, the suit says. Just before Chaney’s photo, a slide portrayed a cartoon in which a mother’s old Facebook page lists her hobbies as “bad boys, jello shooters, and body art,” a fact discovered by her daughter. According to the suit, the juxtaposition inferred Chaney was a “sexually-promiscuous abuser of alcohol (or, in today’s vernacular, an alcoholic slut) who should be more careful about her Internet postings.”

Chaney, who is now a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Georgia, says she believed her Facebook photo was only available to friends and friends of friends. The suit claims a constitutional privacy violation, libel and theft, according to the Banner-Herald report.

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