Thank goodness for the ability to untag yourself in unflattering photos that you would rather not see the light of day. Maybe it was an awkward angle, your eyes were closed, or your hair was sticking up. In any case, there are just some pictures of yourself that you would rather keep private. Suppose that despite your best efforts, you were unable to get pictures removed from Facebook. To what extent would you go? Take the case of Minnesota man Aaron Olson. His uncle, Randall LaBrie, posted some pictures (which have yet to surface publicly or online for us to find and post here) from Olson's childhood of him in front of the Christmas tree accompanied by some less than flattering captions. When Olson became aware of the photos, he asked his uncle to take them down. Instead, LaBrie just untagged the photos and allegedly told his nephew that if he did not like the photos, "he should stay off Facebook." So, Olson sued LaBrie for harassment. Not surprisingly, a Minnesota court threw the case out, with Judge Natalie E. Hudson ruling that in order for the photos to be considered harassment, they must have a "substantial adverse effect on the safety, security, or privacy of another." Also, earlier in the week, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota denied Olson's complaint. Olson now alleges that part of the reason his case was denied was because he was representing himself and the court was biased against his socioeconomic status and religion. Hudson responded that "the district court is afforded broad discretion in controlling the courtroom as part of its duty to proceed efficiently." She also added that the court "assisted appellant multiple times" regarding different court procedures including how to approach a witness, enter an exhibit into evidence, and how to question a witness. As far as Olson's relationship with his uncle, the two men are not currently Facebook "friends."
Staying in the social media world, let's turn to how Twitter could affect the real estate market.
People use social media for a number of reasons. Some people's sole purpose is to promote or sell a product. How about selling your house on Twitter. Australian social media expert Kurt Opray not only sold his home, but he got just over a $1 million for it. The selling price is $135,000 above Opray's asking price and 33% above the median in the suburban area of Melbourne, where the property is located. So how did he do it? First, Opray launched a Twitter account with the handle @NorthCoteHouse and an accompanying blog, northcotehouse.com.au. Opray then used these online tools to offer potential buyers additional pictures he had spiced up on Picasa, YouTube videos, and information about his three-bedroom, one-bathroom house. Opray's real estate agent said he was "astounded" when 80 people showed up to the open house, which was 30% more people than he had expected. While Opray's tactics proved successful, experts say social media is not a replacement for a real estate agent's expertise. Opray told Australian Financial Review, "I know my house better than any agent. Who better to sell my house than me?" However, real estate agents insist that employing their services is vital and cannot replace normal marketing.