Who does not know that? Embarrassing photos that suddenly appear on Facebook after a night of partying. Or tweets that you would have preferred not to publish in retrospect. What can you do?
When false or undesirable information, private or compromising photos appear on the Internet, good advice is expensive at first. How do I handle this? What options are there for removing information, photos or videos about oneself from the internet or having them deleted?
"No one is allowed to publish pictures of me without my consent. Anyone who does so violates my right to their own image, a special form of general personal rights," explains lawyer Jonas Jacobsen, an expert in IT law and intellectual property. This is regulated in the Art Copyright Act (KUG), which explicitly prohibits the publication of photos of other people by third parties.
"But you have to differentiate between publication and production. Consent is only required for distribution or public display - not for the production itself," says Jacobsen. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are photographed as part of a group of people at a demonstration - such a photo may also be published without consent.
In individual cases that are not quite so clear - for example, if I can only be seen in the background of a photo but can still be clearly recognized - it must then be weighed up individually: "The protective area of personal rights is not unlimited. It can be in favor in particular of the fundamental rights of other people, such as freedom of the press and freedom of expression," explains the lawyer.
Law or not - it is not possible to prevent unwanted images or information from ending up on the Internet with absolute certainty, according to Rebekka Weiß from the IT industry association Bitkom: "Ultimately, everything that I have shared with third parties or that has been accessed through unauthorized access to my devices was to find its way into the Internet". What you can do yourself is not to create certain materials in the first place - nude photos, for example.
Limiting access to what you post can also be a good idea, says Dr. Michael Littger, Managing Director of the Germany Safe Online Initiative (DsiN). For example, the entire Instagram profile can be set to private or, alternatively, individual stories can be made visible to a selected group of people. "In this way you can prevent images that you upload yourself from being misused by strangers," says Littger.
If you want to find out what pictures and information about yourself are circulating on the Internet, you can run your own name through search engines or set up an alarm directly with them, which informs you about new search results by e-mail, explains Littger. A similar approach also brings good results in social networks. Most of the time, the quickest way to find out about embarrassing photos is through friends and family you connect with on social media.
Now it really happened: I find an embarrassing photo of myself on the internet and I want it to disappear as soon as possible. What to do? "First go to the person responsible and ask them to delete the photo or change the post," says Littger. Most of the time, unwelcome photos are uploaded to social media without thought and without bad intentions.
Lawyer Jonas Jacobsen explains that it is also important not only to ask for deletion, but also not to re-upload the content. To do this, those affected should warn the website operator or platform and, if necessary, the uploading person.
Jacobsen explains that when it comes to content on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, it always makes sense and is also legally necessary to contact the platform directly. As a rule, they are only liable for the violation of the law if they are aware of it.
On Facebook and Instagram, you can use the report function. If someone else has tagged you in a photo, you can also remove it yourself. Under "Profile settings" and "Check posts and tags" you can also set that tags on the pictures of other users are not added to your own profile without approval.
However, it is often not enough to only delete unwanted photos where they were first uploaded. This can have various reasons: maybe the photo was reposted on other sites or uploaded to a private blog and the operator refuses to delete it.
In this case, you can ask the search engines to delete the search results, explains Rebekka Weiß. That is very effective - even if the post itself is not deleted: "If a post is not on Google