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New PCC guidance on journalists' use of Facebook pics

Today's PCC ruling against the Scottish Sunday Express comes with new guidance on the use by journalists of images taken from social networking sites such as Facebook without permission.

The Press Complaints Commission ruled today that the newspaper made a "serious error of judgment" by publishing a front-page story about the survivors of the Dunblane massacre, based on Facebook photos.

Here's the PCC guidance in full:

The Commission considers that it can be acceptable in some circumstances for the press to publish information taken from such websites, even if the material was originally intended for a small group of acquaintances rather than a mass audience.

This is normally, however, when the individual concerned has come to public attention as a result of their own actions, or are otherwise relevant to an incident currently in the news when they may expect to be the subject of some media scrutiny.

Additionally, if the images used are freely available (rather than hidden behind strict privacy settings), innocuous and used simply to illustrate what someone looks like it is less likely that publication will amount to a privacy intrusion.

Circumventing privacy settings to obtain information will require a public interest justification.

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