Human Rights and Social Media Platforms: The Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights in Regard to Privacy Infringements Involving Photo Posting

Karin Buhmann*, Roxana Olivera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The business and human rights (BHR) regime defines a corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which applies to all business enterprises, regardless of form, business model, or other characteristics. Its global applicability provides that responsibility with important potential to prevent and address privacy infringements related to social media platforms. This article contributes to scholarship on human rights and technology by focusing on social media platforms' enabling of posting photos of individuals. Applying the BHR typology of forms of business involvement in harmful human rights impacts—causing them, contributing to them, or being directly linked through business relationships—we identify situations in which social media providers can be involved in privacy infringements. We argue that the particularities of the business model applied by social media providers can turn the connection between social media providers and users into a business relationship, in the sense of the BHR regime. We identify the human rights due diligence implications of infringements caused by users, when the social media provider can be seen to have contributed to or been directly linked to the impact, as well as those caused by the social media provider, and discuss appropriate responses.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Journal of Human Rights
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)124-141
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Forms of business involvement in human rights infringements
  • Human rights due diligence
  • Posting, re-posting or deleting photos
  • Privacy
  • Social media business models

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