Posting on social media is all just harmless fun, right? Not necessarily true...

It should come with a warning...Think before you post

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People seem to be gutsier with what they say online. Internet trolls take it to the extreme. But have you ever posted a snarky comment or embarrassing photo of a friend somewhere on the internet? it may be something to think twice about according to NEWS 4 (WIVB-TV).

Your seemingly innocent post could land you in legal hot water and cost you some serious cash.

Twitter or Facebook, may have shown an unflattering photo or post about a stranger.  Hundreds of people like share and comment. If this were to happen to you? Do you have any legal recourse against anyone?

Law Professor and social media expert Mark Bartholomew says it is possible.

“There are certain avenues that allow you to sue someone for posting images or saying certain things on social media,” he said. “If you took someone's picture without their permission, and posted it on Twitter, or Instagram or Facebook, you’re violating their publicity rights, their rights to their own image,” Bartholomew said.

And a lot of times this happens without your knowledge.

“Oftentimes what you’re doing is a violation of the law, it’s just that people aren’t aware of this because the technology is so new,” he said.

These cases are rare. But, Bartholomew says, that’s changing.

“We see a situation where the courts are thinking, yeah maybe this is a law that just doesn’t apply to celebrities, it applies to regular people too and once we get a little momentum in that direction I could see more of these lawsuits,” he said.

Social media and online content litigation are some of the fastest-growing legal specialties in the U.S.

Bartholomew said, “You have a right to your own image. People can’t take that without your permission.”

The key to litigation on social media is defamation. Meaning that the post is harmful to your reputation in a tangible way.

“Defamation refers to a situation where you say something that is usually untrue and maligns someone's character in a way that harms them. Just posting that picture of someone that is unflattering, that’s not defamation.”

If you’ve fallen victim to this social media “crime” know there are options.

But experts say you should know who is posting about you.

Bartholomew said, “If  you can’t find the anonymous poster, you’re kind of out of luck.”

If you’re posting something online, be careful of what kind of attention it might bring.

Bartholomew said, “you might attract the kind of post and response that could be upsetting, harmful, or even defamatory.”

You can hire a service to manage your social media life for you. Companies like “Reputation Defender”. But it will cost you. The service charges from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

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