If you have heard about Notre Dame star Manti T’eo and his nonexistent dead girlfriend, you may have opinions regarding whether he was the victim of a cruel hoax or a willing participant in it. What is undisputed in the case, though, is that the woman whose pictures were used to be T’eo alleged girlfriend had her pictures grabbed from Facebook by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the person who pretended to be Lennay Kekua.


The case illustrates one of the issues with Facebook and photos, or, for that matter, sharing photos on any online service, including Instagram, Google +, Twitter, and the like. You can have the best privacy settings in the world, but all it takes is one person with agenda to distribute your photos throughout the world, without your permission or even knowledge. (In the Manti T’eo situation, she had no idea that her photos were used to represent T’eo’s girlfriend until Deadspin, the sports media website that broke the story about the hoax, contacted her.)

• People worry websites will use photos for advertisements

There was a huge hullabaloo a short time ago regarding Instagram, the photo site that Facebook recently purchased, telling its customers about a change to its terms of service. People feared that their photos would be used for advertisements for the company, or for other products, without their permission. After the controversy, Instagram backed down, although they denied that they were really going to use customers’ photos in ads.

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• Use the privacy settings, but still be careful

If you are concerned about your Facebook photos, or other photos you use on social media, being used without permission, you should make sure you use the best Privacy settings you can. But keep in mind that people take things off photo streams all the time. If you take professional photos, and want to know how to make sure others do not use them without your permission, you might want to speak with an intellectual property attorney in New York or elsewhere. Talking to an intellectual property attorney in New York may be able to help you determine what your rights are, and help you if somebody else takes your pictures without permission.

Unfortunately, the only way you can guarantee that your photos will not be misappropriated from you or shared all over the place is to not put it online. However, you do have options if your photos are used without your permission. Click here to reach an intellectual property attorney in New York who can help you.

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Are you concerned about your privacy on Facebook? Do share your opinion in the comment section, we’ll be glad to hear from you.


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