A newsreader based in the US city of Philadelphia, Karen Hepp, is suing Facebook, Reddit, and other platforms in federal court after discovering that a photo of her taken in a convenience store was popping up in dating and erectile dysfunction ads, per the Verge.
In court documents, Hepp alleged that Facebook, Reddit, Imgur, Giphy, and porn site XNXX violated her rights of publicity as well as injured her reputation when the creepshot showed up in “a Facebook ad promising meetups with ‘single women,’ an unspecified ad for erectile dysfunction [on XNXX], a Reddit forum for sexualised pictures of older women [r/OBSF], and the ‘MILF’ tag on Imgur,” per the Verge. The suit also claims that the version of the photo uploaded to Giphy had been modified: “A video appears in the background of a man – who is hiding behind a glass commercial freezer door and masturbating – to what would appear, from his perspective, to be the backside of Plaintiff.”
Hepp’s image as it appeared on a XNXX “MILF gallery.” (Image: Law & Crime)
Hepp’s photo (right) appearing in an ad for dating services on Facebook. (Screenshot: Law & Crime)
The image in question depicts Hepp standing in a bodega wearing a low-cut shirt (stopping short of the standards defined in Pennsylvania’s revenge porn laws). As websites have significant liability protection from user-generated content under section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act, Hepp may face long odds against the named platforms, such as Facebook and Reddit, though it would be easier to find anyone who uploaded the photos to those platforms liable.
According to Philly Mag, Hepp says she doesn’t know where the photo was specifically taken – though believes someone took it without her permission in New York – and is asking for over $10 million (£8 million) as well as the immediate removal of the content:
Hepp says in the suit that she’s not exactly sure where the photo in question came from, but the suit narrows it down to an unknown convenience store in New York City. The suit alleges that the photo was taken without her permission.
She’s asking that the court order the sites in question to immediately remove her photo. The suit also demands compensatory damages of more than $10 million.
Hepp’s legal team added in the documents that she “maintains an exclusive entitlement to control the commercial value of her name and/or likeness and to prevent others from exploiting it without permission” and “would never have permitted any of the Defendants to use her image to promote prurient and base interests.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the defendants in the suit did not respond to a request for comment, while Fox 29, the network that employs Hepp, deferred all questions to Hepp’s attorney, who declined to comment further.
Featured image: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)