Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

5 Ways Instagram Can Lead to Legal Trouble

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. | Last updated on

While Instagram can be a fun photo-sharing app, it can also lead to legal trouble in a snap.

Perhaps the anonymity of the Internet lulls people into thinking they're immune to the consequences of sharing incriminating information. Regardless of which social network you're posting to, remember that nothing is sacred online.

As the following cases show, there are many ways Instagram can either land you in jail or make you vulnerable to a lawsuit. For example:

  1. Posting incriminating selfies. Instagram selfies can get you into legal trouble. One convicted felon in Florida allegedly posted selfies of himself brandishing guns. Problem is, convicted felons in Florida aren't allowed to be in possession, ownership, care, or control of any firearms. So those selfies were enough to get him arrested -- again.
  2. Posting pics that "snitch" on police informants. An anonymous Instagram account "outing" witness of violent crimes in Philadelphia has caught the attention of law enforcement. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the now-defunct Instagram account posted photos, police statements, and testimonies of witnesses in order to intimidate them. Police have obtained search warrants to track down who's behind the account.
  3. Posting "revenge porn." High school is always drama-filled, but one teen took it to another level by allegedly posting a sexually explicit photo of his ex-girlfriend on Instagram that he took without her consent, Connecticut's WVIT-TV reports. After the alleged victim notified police about the photo, her ex-boyfriend was arrested and charged with voyeurism and disseminating voyeuristic material. In response to these types of deplorable crimes, California and New Jersey have enacted laws against posting "revenge porn."
  4. Posting "food porn" ... while dining with a governement informant. Two alleged identity thieves were arrested after posting "food porn" from their dinner with an IRS informant. The alleged criminals handed over a flash drive to the undercover informant that contained hidden data linking it to Nathaniel Troy Maye. Using that information, the IRS found Maye's Instagram account which had a picture of the meal they shared with the informant.
  5. Posting someone else's pic without permission. Although it may seem harmless to share someone else's image you found on Instagram, doing so could make you liable for copyright infringement. Even Vogue España (the Spanish version of the esteemed fashion magazine) has been caught re-purposing a photo on its Instagram account without giving credit to the original photographer. Confronted with its mistake, the magazine paid the photographer for the image and copyright infringement, The Guardian reports.

These are just a few ways that Instagram photos have developed into criminal cases and potential lawsuits. One final reminder, especially for younger Instagram users: Keep in mind that what you post online can also negatively impact your job prospects in the real world.

Related Resources:

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard