In April of last year, a photo of “33-year-old,” “single” police officer named “Jason” appeared in sponsored ads across Facebook and Instagram to promote a dating app for “uniformed singles.” Only thing is, the photo was actually of a 24-year-old police officer named David, who is married, has children, and is now suing the owners of the company for allegedly using his photo without his permission.
David Guzman filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida against NSI Holdings, the company that owns the dating site UniformDating.com, in May, alleging that the holding company scraped a photo from his private Facebook profile in April of last year and then used his face in ads for the dating service, according to the lawsuit.
Around April of last year, Guzman claims in the suit, “several acquaintances” informed him that his photo was being used for Uniform Dating ads on social media. His wife then asked him why his image was being used for the ads, according to the lawsuit, to which Guzman claimed “he had no idea.”
Guzman then emailed NSI Holdings and asked them to immediately remove his photo from their advertisements. The company allegedly “was resistant” and asked for Guzman to prove his identity. He did, but the company continued to use his photo, according to Guzman’s claims. But NSI Holdings reportedly said they stopped using his photo “within days” of his complaint. Also, as you may have been anticipating, it disputed Guzman’s claims that he never had a profile on the dating site.
“Plaintiff’s position is not enviable,” a motion to dismiss the suit filed by NSI Holdings in August states. “He is a married man and respected member of his community who has been caught with a profile on an online dating website. While sympathies may flow in Plaintiff’s direction, there is no liability for NSI Holdings.”
NSI Holdings wrote in its motion this month that it investigated Guzman’s claims and found a user profile on Uniform Dating with his correct birthdate, email address, and the photograph in question. The company added that it didn’t create the profile and wouldn’t be able to given that it didn’t have any of the included identifying information. The company said that Guzman’s profile was only used once, which could indicate “a momentary dalliance” or, perhaps, that an enemy made the profile, NBC News reported.
The case, as it stands, ultimately boils down to a he-said, they-said. Either a man is lying and shitty, or a corporation exploited someone’s likeness for profit and is lying and shitty. (Or, perhaps, someone made a dating profile for a cop they didn’t like—which, okay...) Neither would be particularly revelatory outcomes.