A blog on why norms matter online

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mayor publishes pictures of "vandals" on Facebook: a human rights violation?

(c) ORF Steiermark 2012

On 6 and 7 March the small town of Gleisdorf in Eastern Styria erupted. Well, at least the Facebook page of its mayor. He had published the picture of two young men who were sitting inside the closed public swimming pool of Gleisdorf, asking whether anyone knew them. 

Was he allowed to do so? It's illegal to incriminate someone publicly, but there was no crime he'd suggested they'd committed? But about their right to privacy? They were easily recognizable - it only took a couple of minutes for the mayor to be contacted with the names of the two.

The human rights questions that this incident raises are interesting and ORF Steiermark interviewed me for both the radio news and the TV news. I highlighted that it was not ok to just publish the pictures, as this violated the privacy of the two young people. Space didn't allow for much more detail in the interviews, but I'll be writing a paper on this and related phenomena. 

You can find the ORF Steiermark report here. TV and radio reports are no longer available online, but I can provide them on request.

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