The question is: Do individuals who post personal information on publicly available Web sites have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their identity? This same question was asked earlier this year in Sandler v. Calcagni, a case out of the District Court of Maine.
The facts condensed
Two high school friends/cheerleaders have a falling out that turns nasty. Their bickering leads to school suspensions, criminal mischief conviction, and eventually Calcagni enters a consent degree for a civil hate crime prosecution.
Calcagni’s parents believe their daughter was wronged so they launch a media campaign, which involved writing and publishing the book through Booksurge, to try and right the wrong. The book contained private information about Sandler.
Sandler sues Calcagni and a few others including Booksurge for defamation, privacy invasion, etc.
–Today I will only address Booksurge’s motion for summary judgment, which is simply their effort to get out of the lawsuit before it goes to trial–
The District Court of Maine held that Sandler’s invasion of privacy claim was negated because she had posted the same “private information” on her publicly accessible MySpace page. The plaintiff had admitted on MySpace that she had sought psychological help. The court notes that this admission was not only public, but that she obviously did not consider disclosure of these facts to be highly offensive.
Take away lesson
The court’s ruling here could mean that people who post private details about their lives on publicly accessible Web sites (aka social media sites) might be precluded from successfully bringing claims for ‘expectation of privacy’ in those already posted details.