Home Judge Rules Against Man Who Claimed Harassment Over Embarrassing Facebook Photo

Judge Rules Against Man Who Claimed Harassment Over Embarrassing Facebook Photo

One of the first rules of public relations is “never be photographed with a drink in your hand,” but now, in the Facebook age, it may simply be “never be photographed.”

A judge ruled that people can’t sue for harassment simply because someone posts an unflattering photo of them on Facebook. Aaron Olson of Chisago City, Minn., sued his uncle, Randall LaBrie, for harassment. LaBrie’s transgression? Posting a childhood photo of Olson on the 800 million+ member social network with an unflattering remark.

Olson was untagged in the photo but still wanted LaBrie to take it down. Uncle Randy wasn’t having it and told his nephew if he didn’t like it, he “should stay off Facebook.” Other twists in the case included Olson asking the court for a harassment restraining order and the fact that he and his uncle weren’t even friends on Facebook.

Enter Minnesota District Court Judge Natalie E. Hudson, who sided with LaBrie. In her ruling, Hudson said “Comments that are mean and disrespectful, coupled with innocuous family photos, do not affect a person’s safety, security, or privacy – and certainly not substantially so.”

The ruling, unfortunately, leaves out the details we’re craving, including Olson’s age, the family drama that made this the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and, of course, the photo itself (the photo is only described as being of Olson posed in front of a Christmas tree).

One more weird twist in this truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale: It was LaBrie who initially untagged Olson from the photos and subsequently took them down after sending his “stay off Facebook” email, but before Hudson issued her ruling.

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