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I work for a company that is distributed over several branches across different countries. Every once in a while we're having these group video calls/conferences where all branches participate and every time one of the branches makes a presentation to the others. Our branch is the smallest (less than 10 people).

Recently our branch was the one to make a presentation and one of my co-workers was in charge of it. The problem is that his slides had photos and videos of his co-workers (myself included), without having asked for anyone's consent. In fact, nobody was aware of the presentation and its content until the moment it got presented in front of the entire company.

There was nothing directly offensive in the content of the videos and photos that were shown but I personally felt embarrassed of some shots of myself that I didn't like and wouldn't have approved. I don't know whether there is a legal issue behind this practice, but at least ethically speaking, I believe it's wrong. The same colleague has done similar things in the past, such as making a poster with professional photos of co-workers he found on social media and then posting it on LinkedIn.

Any advice how I should deal with this? I want to say in public in some Slack channel that I'm not ok with this practice. But I'm not sure of how to approach this in case they claim that this behavior is legally and ethically acceptable and imply that I'm just being weird.

  • 9
    why not approach him directly? – Kilisi Jan 19 at 8:09
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    Filing an "informal complaint" is just stirring up office drama. You want to complain to an authority figure, but you don't want to be "on record" as being the sort of person who complains to authority figures. If you want to invoke a third party, like you boss or HR, then do so formally. You either are or are not filing a complaint. As for legal issues, speak to a lawyer. But also be aware that suing someone isn't free, even if you do have a case, so think about how much money you're really willing to spend pursuing this issue in court. – Steve-O Jan 19 at 15:50
  • @JoeStrazzere I guess "filing an informal complaint" doesn't make much sense, though what I really meant was saying in public in some Slack channel that I'm not ok with this practice. – en1 Jan 20 at 8:46
  • @Steve-O Our HR is pretty useless and only focuses on recruiting. I don't want to make it official with this guy and I know that if I tell him to never do this again he won't. However, he will also try to convince me that he had every right to do what he did and that I'm on the wrong - and that will get me pissed off. So I'm trying to find a way of making him realise that he's wrong without having to make it official. – en1 Jan 20 at 8:51
  • @Kilisi Because even though this will work, this guy is gonna claim that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing. I need some solid arguments. – en1 Jan 20 at 15:29
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There are several point here:

  • collecting photos from social median and posting them on LinkedIn? That is weird and I think someone should inform him that it may sit not well with everybody. Or you send an takedown notice to linkedin based on the fact that your co-worker does not have the copyright on the pictures (Just because something is on social media, it doesn't mean it's free....).

  • Taking pictures of co-workers without their consent? If you are affected by it, go straight to your boss and tell him that you don't like this and that it should not be repeated.

Depending on the place, there may be legal problems, too.

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This is a tricky legal situation but can have a simple interpersonal fix.

Ask him to

  • not use any of your social media content

  • use only certain media from your online presence

  • show you the media of you he wants to use for approval beforehand

The last point is potentially the only one you need.

You can only speak for yourself, so keep it that way, short and polite.

Legally there is the right of privacy / personal protection and the copyright / ownership of the image as well as the subject in the image.

Arguably photos / videos made on company premises could be deemed company property.

Social media content is really confusing because yes, you published it for the whole world to see, so why are you now against their use on one hand and your personal / privacy rights and the photographers (usually you) IP / copyrights on the other hand.

If you want to have legal advice on this minefield, inform yourself about laws in your locale or simply ask a lawyer.

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    "Arguably photos / videos made on company premises could be deemed company property." This is a good point. Read your contract! – Polygnome Jan 19 at 20:39
  • There's no such clause in my contract. I know if I ask him to never do this again he won't, but I would also like some solid arguments to convince him that it's wrong - a legal argument would be best here (the ethical one should have been self-explanatory). – en1 Jan 20 at 9:07
  • @en1 you can't convince someone an action is wrong by invoking the law; you can only convince them it's illegal. – Erik Jan 20 at 19:51
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If you have not told this individual that you are not happy - then how does this individual know that you are unhappy.

Best bet is to talk to the person. Any reasonable person would try to rectify the problem/ This does not require HR, Boss, lawyer etc.

Possible rectification could be to pixilate yourself, or remove the offending photo.

Or maybe get a thicker skin. Most (all?) of the photos of myself are not that great.

In addition - getting a lawyer involved is expensive, will lead to an unhealthy working relationship, ...

  • "Get a thicker skin"? Had I wanted psychological advice I would've gone elsewhere. This is not a serious answer. – en1 Jan 20 at 18:37

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