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Selfie: 'Word of the Year' Can Spell Legal Trouble

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

The Oxford Dictionary Online -- not to be confused with the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary -- proclaimed "selfie" as the word of the year.

Per The New Yorker, a "selfie" is an informal noun (plural: selfies) defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website."

From the Mars Rover to the "Bling Ring" cinematic trope, selfies have taken our lexicon by storm.

But when the following three selfie legal issues happen to you, no filter can paint you in a flattering light:

  1. Sexting selfies. These days, young folks' interests include Hot Cheetos, Sizzurp, and sexting. Flamin' Hot Cheetos may land kids in the hospital, but flamin' hot selfies can send sad pimply high schoolers to jail for child porn production and distribution. Your sexy selfie may have come in like a wrecking ball, but you're leaving as a registered sex offender. #ohsnap #mileycyrusjoke.
  2. Experiencing revenge porn. A natural consequence of sexing it up in a selfie is the aftermath: revenge porn. For some odd reason, selfie-sexters in the throes of passion seem to always think that, like, love is forever -- à la Romeo + Juliet (even though the latter was 13 years old, but hey). But before you snap that selfie of yourself in a merkin for your beloved, realize your star-crossed lover might post it on a revenge porn website when y'all breakup and then all the world's a stage. Revenge porn may be illegal in California, but in other states, it's less clear. #tragedy.
  3. Texting selfies while driving. Selfie-posters are multi-taskers -- unlawful multi-taskers, that is. Posting selfies while driving is trending with teens but troubling officials. Alas, even when the sunlight is perfectly framing your face, selfie-snapping while you're driving is a form of distracted driving. Then you'll be stuck Snapchatting your moment in court.

Of course, youngsters aren't alone. From "cop selfies" to naked lawyer selfies, there are plenty of full-grown selfie-offenders out there who are losing their jobs -- and ironically, losing face -- over their selfie snafus.

Ah, the price of #nofilter.

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