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Teen sues parents for allegedly posting potty pics on Facebook

Technically Incorrect: In Austria, an 18-year-old isn't happy with her parents' social media activity. So she takes the legal route.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Do you really have to post everything to Facebook?

Jochen Eckel/Corbis

Kids and their parents suffer fraught relationships.

Facebook, which offers the opportunity to to air dirty laundry, has helped make the situation more stressful.

Kids use Facebook to whine about their parents. In one incident, the dad was so displeased that he took his daughter's laptop and shot it to death.

Parents aren't innocent either. They use Facebook to shame their kids.

A new incident takes the situation to a different level. As the Local in Austria reports, an 18-year-old's parents have allegedly posted 500 pictures of their daughter since 2009 to social media, specifically to their 700 Facebook friends.

This makes the daughter unhappy. So she's doing what any self-respecting daughter would: she's suing them.

It seems some of these pictures are from her baby days. Some involve difficult topics, such as potty training.

"They knew no shame and no limit and didn't care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot," the Local quotes the teen as saying. "Every stage was photographed and then made public."

The teen says she's begged them to stop, but to no avail.

I worry, though, about the subtext to all this. Why might parents have this posting fetish? And why might the teen not be able to persuade her parents that they're embarrassing her?

A clue may lie in this quote from the teen: "I'm tired of not being taken seriously by my parents."

The teen's dad reportedly believes that because he took the pictures, he can post them wherever he likes. The Local quotes Michael Rami who, it says, is the teen's lawyer. He said the posting may have denied the teen a personal life.

Rami, however, told me he was merely asked to comment as a legal expert and is not, in fact, the teen's lawyer.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

It's unclear how this might be seen by an Austrian judge. In France, however, they're rather keen on privacy. Legal experts there have warned parents not to post potty-pictures willy-nilly. The kids might sue them one day and win.

Recently, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Michigan found that kids aged between 10 and 17 were "really concerned" about what their parents might choose to post.

The parents, stunningly, were rather less concerned.

As so often with technology these days, many aspects haven't been tested in the courts. Moreover, laws haven't kept up with technology at all, leaving interpretation highly unpredictable.

Parents and kids both have a lot to learn when it comes to Facebook behavior.

I still shiver when I consider the Florida teen whose dad won an $80,000 discrimination settlement. The daughter bragged about it on Facebook.

Yes, of course, the settlement was confidential. So dad didn't get the money.

Sometimes, it's worth thinking before posting. Often, it's worth not posting at all.

This story originally published at 4:16 p.m. PT September 14.
Update, 6:30 a.m. PT September 15: Adds information from the lawyer named by the Local.