In a Friday, May 6 segment titled “Sex, Shame and the Internet,” on NBC NOW Tonight with Joshua Johnson, Partner Ryan Baker discussed privacy issues related to social media, specifically addressing a recently released video of U.S. House Representative Madison Cawthorn. Addressing potential legal consequences, Baker stated that “[a] lot, obviously, will depend on the facts.” American Muckrakers (the political action committee responsible for the release of the video) claims it obtained the video from an individual with “a bona fide right,” someone “who owned the video or recorded the video.” Additionally, “Madison already acknowledged, seemingly pretty definitively, that it is him in the video, and it was a real video, so it’s not false.” If the video is not false, there would be no claim for defamation, but it could give rise to other claims.
The question then turns, Baker said, to whether the video is an accurate portrayal of North Carolina Congressman Cawthorn. “Is this attempt to put this video out there now, an attempt to put him in a false light. False light does not require that the information be false, but that rather the information is putting him into a light that makes him appears to be something he is not … But because he has embraced it and said we all make mistakes, I frankly don’t know if there will be any legal follow through here.” Baker then explained that technology presents constantly evolving challenges that the law struggles to address, but state and federal governments have enacted laws against certain wrongs. It is up to the courts to interpret and apply those laws to different facts. (The full segment, hyperlinked above, includes a discussion of “revenge porn.”)
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