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The holiday party – Beware of the embarrassing photograph!

When it comes to holiday parties, it is not unusual for people to let their guard down. Before you know it, there is a video or photograph on YouTube or the social networks of someone at a party dressed in a reindeer costume, mooning the camera, while trying to juggle a shot glass of tequila on their red nose.

Such embarrassing videos or photographs can haunt their subject for quite some time. Indeed, they may be picked up by other websites, such that when a search is run on Google under the subject’s name, they appear frequently on the results page.

If the video or photograph is embarrassing enough as to be defamatory, it may be possible to get it removed from the internet, but not without some legal and technological legwork. And the person who posted it online may face a defamation lawsuit, even if the intention of posting it was not malicious, but rather to garner a few laughs at the subject’s expense.

So, in this time of holiday cheer, my advice is simple: think before you act.

Avoid that embarrassing photo or video by drinking and acting responsibly. And if you are planning on posting or sharing such a photo online, ask yourself: would the person in the photo or video want it to be posted online for his or her friends, co-workers, bosses and family to see? would it embarrass them so as to hurt their reputation? and when it doubt – do not post it, or seek the person’s permission to post it.

Happy Holidays to All!

Maanit Zemel, Partner
Miller Thomson LLP

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Maanit Zemel

Internet and Social Media lawyer, commercial litigator at MTZ Law
Maanit Zemel is a commercial litigator admitted to practice in Ontario and New York, with substantial experience and expertise in Internet and social media law, including Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), privacy, online defamation, cyberbullying and cyber-security.
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