Removing an unwanted online photo you didn’t post - can you do it?


What is Section 230?

Under this section of the Communications Decency Act, no provider or user will be treated as a publisher or speaker of the information content provider.  This act provides an immunity to host services but must satisfy requirements in what they do to be considered immune.  There is already much written about Section 230 and how a content provider can be immune. I want to focus on the victim - what happens when your college days photo of you - naked, throwing up in somebody else’s car pops up on a website?  The prognosis is not good - the photo or the chances of removal.

How does it affect your online reputation?

When a website posts something harmful against another individual, that individual can try to seek removal of the content.  Going through the process is lengthy and expensive.  However, it is distressful to see a harmful representation of oneself on let’s say… a porn site.  Section 230 comes into play when the harmed person wants to take down the photos and information.  Court decisions on this issue are slim, but a court could find that if your website is finding the information and publishing them, you could be found liable for creation of the content and therefore, not immune under Section 230.   Recently, lawyers have been going after the site owners as well as the domain registrar.

What is even more harrowing is the fact that some of these sites, which post harmful information and/or photos about an individual, then offers a paid service to take down the information.  There have been no on-point cases relating to whether these sites are legallay allowed to do this.  It sounds like extortion, doesn’t it?


Given the lack of legal support in protecting individuals from wrongful and harmful posting, I plan to never post or send an incriminating photo of me or another person.  You’ll find yourself paying a pretty penny for removal or having it sit in online outer space.  So you drunk photo texters…be aware of your rights or lack thereof.


the legal boutique online reputation section 230