There is probably a lot of information about you in cyberspace. If you have a Facebook account, or know people with a Facebook account, it's almost a certainty.
The issue leaped into the headlines in early December when Facebook made changes to its privacy settings. It was supposed to simplify things but one result was the removal of the option for users to hide themselves from the site's main search tool.
"Many people posted stuff on their timelines that they did not expect to be publicly searcheable," Mark Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said at the time.
But it's not just your comments on Facebook, but photographs too. People post millions of pictures of family and friends, and if you happen to be in the picture – and even “tagged” with your name – your image is there for all to see and no one asks you for permission.
And because pictures are easily downloaded from the Internet, once a picture of you is out there, it can end up anywhere. Vikash, of Punjab, Pakistan, reports that she discovered her likeness as the ID for someone else's Facebook account.
“I wish to make a complaint against Facebook not blocking a Facebook ID that's using my photo as the profile picture,” she wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. Facebook ID (name redacted) is a fake ID and it used my photo as the profile picture.
Then there's the recent example of a California woman whose Facebook pictures became the image of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's dead girlfriend.
Your likeness, it seems, is out of control. Just ask 17 women in Texas.
The women have joined a class-action lawsuit against a “revenge-porn” website, claiming ex-boyfriends published nude photographs of them on the site. The women are suing Texxxan.com, as well as Godaddy.com, a commercial website hosting service, and all subscribing members.