Social media is sharing, but what if it’s a business sharing a photo of a customer, event attendee, client or one of their staff person’s children? There are many permission restrictions to be aware of – and respect – when sharing images and other content on social media.
By Samantha Scott, APR
So, you just held a great event and want to share pictures of attendees on your company/organization’s Facebook page or other social media platform. But wait. Did you get permission first? So often, we as public relations and marketing professionals think only about communicating the story, event, news, etc. that we forget about some of the legalities and rules associated with our work. Social media is no exception.
While we can share any photo or information we want, virtually, on Facebook, Instagram and other photo sharing sites, problems could arise if a photo is shared that an individual isn’t proud of, doesn’t like or otherwise takes offense to. In that case, you must be prepared to either 1) stand your ground because you’ve protected yourself with a waiver or other signage about video/photo surveillance or 2) quickly remove the image and make ammends.
Beyond personal objections, there are also copyright conflicts that could arise. This relates to any intellectual or otherwise, property of businesses/people that are shared without their permission. This becomes a potential problem with sites like Pinterest where “re-pinning” or duplicated sharing is expressly encouraged. 
As PC World ( points out, “While Facebook users repurpose others’ content regularly, Facebook asks each time you upload a photo if you have the permission to use it. The legal burden lies with the original person who posted the photo rather than those who share links to it.”
A simple way to protect yourself, your company or organization is to have everyone either sign a photo/video release waiver or have it auto checked when they register for an event or otherwise. This can be as simple as:
I hereby grant permission to COMPANY NAME or their authorized agents, representatives or employees to use photographs and/or video taken of me or my child(ren) for use in company promotional materials, on their website and/or social media platforms and to use such photographs without notifying me. I hereby waive any right to inspect or approve the finished photographs or printed or electronic matter that may be used in conjunction with them now or in the future, whether that use is known to me or unknown, and I waive any right to royalties or other compensation arising from or related to the use of the photograph.
A side note, you should be personally aware of what apps you allow to operate on your computer, Facebook account and even your phone (Apple or Android). As some reports have pointed out, they can not only access your images at will, but some can even share them without your permission! Learn more and protect yourself: