Teenager sues parents for posting embarrassing photos of her childhood on Facebook

Think twice before you hit upload and post to Facebook.
Think twice before you hit upload and post to Facebook. Photo: Getty Images

This morning I shared a Facebook memory. It was a ridiculously cute photo of my then one-year-old daughter and her toy bunny, wearing matching dresses. It makes me smile, and six years on, it makes my daughter smile too.

"Why are we wearing the same dress?" she asks me. "That's so silly!"

But while she gets a kick out seeing baby photos on-line now, how will she feel about it when she is 18?

I hope that I have been mindful enough to leave out any pictures that could comprise my girls' privacy. But I can't guarantee that there won't be something there they wont like.

A recent case in Austria highlights what could become a nightmare for parents whose children grew up in the Facebook era.

An 18-year-old girl from the Southern Carinthia region is suing her parents for posting embarrassing photos of her on Facebook, claiming that the images have made her life a misery.

The teenager says that her parents have posted more than 500 photos of her without consent. Photos include intimate childhood moments such as having her nappy changed and sitting on the potty.

"They knew no shame and no limit - and didn't care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot - every stage was photographed and then made public," she told Die Ganze Woche.

"I'm tired of not being taken seriously by my parents."

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It has been reported that her parents have refused to take the photos down. Her father has allegedly claimed that since he took the photos he has the right to publish them.

The young woman's lawyer believes that she has a good chance of winning the case when it comes to court in November.

When it comes to social media, Austrian privacy laws are not as strict as some other countries. In France, for example, anyone convicted of publishing and distributing images of another person without their consent can face up to one year in prison and a €45,000 ($80,000)fine.

In Australia, parents have been warned that posting photos of their children on social media could compromise their safety. In 2014, National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell urged parents to be cautious when posting cute baby photos or sharing their children's achievements.

"It has the potential to put them at risk," she told Fairfax Media.

"People can potentially find out what school they go to, or track where they move about the community because you have locational settings on.

"We have to be careful when we put images out there in the ether because we really don't know what is happening to them, we don't know who is going to access them and we don't know what they're going to do with them."

Perhaps now these sorts of warnings should also remind parents to be mindful of their children's sensibilities. The risk of embarrassing our kids is probably much higher than any of the other cyber risks we face when we post photos of them online.

I won't be removing the bunny photo just yet (it really is very cute) – but should the day come that my daughter puts her foot down I'd delete it in a heartbeat.

And anyway, if she is going to end up suing me for anything it will be for the shockingly awful home haircut.

UPDATE: The story of the Austrian girl suing her parents has been debunked by Austrian media, who say that there is no evidence of the case in court lists. The lawyer associated with the case by Die Ganze Woche has denied that he is representing the girl.

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