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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46773
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Someone went on to my facebook account who to my knowledge

Resolved Question:

Someone went on to my facebook account who to my knowledge does not have a facebook account and they printed out my profile photo which has myself and my grandchildren on it together with a post someone else made on my wall. They then used this printout to get the person who had posted on my wall suspended from their job. I have no idea how they accessed this information. Can they legally use my details and photo, especially as it contained my grandchildren, in this way without my permission? As far as I am aware my privacy settings were all in place.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Have you been able to work out who did this and how they did it?

Customer:

Hi Ben, No I haven`t. All I know is that the person who had this printout in their possession is not a facebook account holder to my knowledge. The post is very old - from April 2013 - the person who left the post on my wall and I have very few mutual friends. It`s a mystery to me how this person got this information. My husband (not a FB user), my daughter`s friend (not a FB friend of mine) and her mother (also not a FB friend of mine) all tried to access my account to see if they could get in and they couldn`t.

Ben Jones :

Is there a possibility they could have obtained it from one of your friends on FB?

Customer:

I thought of that but I do not think any of my friends would have passed it on as I am very careful who I have as friends. This was to do with my old workplace which I left in July 2012. I just basically want to know if they have a legal right to use my profile photo which shows my grandchildren and my posts in this way. They have suspended the person because of something she said on a post to me and seemingly printed it off my wall with my name on the top alongside my profile photograph. There is such a thing as safeguarding where children are concerned and although they are in my profile photo I believed my photo and information was secure. Surely people can`t just print off person information and use it in this way?

Ben Jones :

Whilst you may see your posts as 'private', there is unfortunately no such protection on Facebook, regardless of your settings. After all this is a public site and whilst certain safeguards are included to try and restrict your profile to strangers, there is no legal expectation of privacy. Also there is no direct legal claim for breach of privacy you can take, in this case it would be some claim for illegally accessing your account (hacking), breach of copyright by using your photo without your consent, etc. For the first you need some evidence there was access that breached the law, it is no good saying no one else managed to get it - some evidence is needed. The second needs you to have suffered some damages as a result, usually financial - I see no evidence of this here. So legal action will be difficult I'm afraid and you simply cannot expect privacy for anything posted on the site, regardless of how secure your settings are. A common example is when someone suddenly gets thrust into the spotlight and the news for whatever reason - the media will immediately go for their Facebook profile and try to find information on them, using photos from their profile, etc - that information will be plastered all over the internet, the papers, TV - it is not really illegal.

Customer:

Well I did read in one place on the security and privacy settings that a third party should not be able to use information once your settings are secure and mine were and as they are using this as `evidence` to suspend this person - then the evidence I have that my account has been accessed is this printout of my photo and wall post - so am I not legally entitled to ask them how they obtained this information through a solicitor?

Ben Jones :

A solicitor can ask them but we have no powers to force them to disclose that information, only a court can and to commence legal proceedings jut to find this out, when you cannot really get any compensation from this, is not recommended

Customer:

I don`t want compensation - I just want to stop them using this information - and specifically my profile photo - it seems from what you say that I have no rights about their use of my information at all?

Ben Jones :

I am afraid that you have no legal expectation of privacy by posting things on facebook - whilst your setting may be private there are still people who can access these and whilst you say you vet your friends carefully you still cannot guarantee that it was not one of them that accessed this (lawfully) and forwarded it on

Ben Jones :

The best advice is that if you wish to keep something private and confidential, you do not post it on facebook or other public forums, regardless of what settings you have

Customer:

I am very careful about what I say but, as you know, we cannot be responsible for what other people say and it was a post from someone else that has caused this problem, for which they are now suffering, albeit there was no name mentioned etc etc. I am just really annoyed they have used the post from MY wall as a weapon to suspend this person but I get what you are saying. What bothers me is that the person who is using this `evidence` is head of a safe guarding committee in one of the biggest council`s in the UK and I find this abhorent.

Ben Jones :

the matter is now between this person and the employer rally - this is an internal employment matter and separate rules will apply there in terms of what action the employer can take, the level of investigation needed before formal action can be taken, etc

Customer:

Okay I understand that the suspension is between the person and the employer. I just don`t like that they are using my name and evidence from my fb account to bring this about and I really wanted to know if I could do anything about it as it does seem unfair when I have applied security and privacy settings, that these have not stopped my information being used in this way. So, clearly, it doesn`t matter that they put these things in place as they are of no use. However, if I can prove my account was hacked would things then be viewed differently?

Ben Jones :

Well not necessarily because we still do not know how they accessed this - know you trust your friends but as a neutral person I can say that it is certainly possible that one of them, with full access to your account, provided these. Then the settings still did their job as intended. If you can prove the account was hacked, which is likely to be difficult, then that can be a criminal offence and people have actually been prosecuted and jailed for such things:

http://content.met.police.uk/News/Man-jailed-for-hacking-Facebook-account/1400008604027/1257246745756

It really depends on how it was done, the intentions behind it, what happened after, etc

Ben Jones :

Also it is entirely in the hands of the police as to how, and if, they proceed

Customer:

Okay thanks for your help.

Ben Jones :

You are welcome, all the best

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46773
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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