It's a bit like slander, except there is no false information. I wanted to Google whatever this may be called to see what my options are if this video is ever released. I'm stumped as to what to search for though.

A psychopath of a roommate in college has a video of me doing drugs. I wasn't aware there was a video. It was my first and last time trying drugs. I'm about to start my professional career and this degenerate of a man has the power to take everything I've worked for over the past 5 years away with a simple video. My family's reputation, my own reputation, and my professional career are now all at risk because of one stupid mistake I made. It doesn't seem to qualify as slander because I did in fact take drugs.

In Ireland

  • 46
    I suggest chilling out. They almost certainly can not ruin you. It's just drugs. Do a few googles for things like "List of politicians who've tried drugs" or "List of fortune 500 CEOs who've tried drugs" and you'll get huge amounts of results. If anyone in an interview mentions it you can be all "Yes, I tried it. Pretty stupid. In retrospect it really wasn't worth it ... so I never used it again. And I'd certainly never be using on the job in anycase." If it's sent to your grandma "Yeah gran, that happened. You know college, trying new things. I tried it. I didn't like it." Dec 4, 2017 at 11:36
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    and pragmatically you can almost certainly have it taken down from any reputable video site / social media site. Look e.g. at youtube's guidelines: youtube.com/intl/en-GB/yt/about/policies/#community-guidelines Under privacy it has "uploaded a video of you without your consent" (which is regardless of if you consented for it to be filmed or not). Dec 4, 2017 at 11:41
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    All you did was drugs? Sounds like you have a great career in Politics! Dec 4, 2017 at 15:44
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    I joined this community to warn you about the answers for the United States. The laws there are a lot different from Ireland and the European Union, where you have the right to be forgotten (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_be_forgotten). In my country (Portugal) which is also in the EU, you cannot release media of me without my permission, period. In fact, here you cannot even have a surveillance camera inside your home pointing to the street, because the people in the public space have the right to privacy.
    – Edu
    Dec 4, 2017 at 19:40
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    If someone took a video of you taking weed five years ago, and showed it to me, guess whose reputation would be totally destroyed, which person I would never do any business with or deal with personally, because they are disgusting, vicious and not trustworthy. It's not you.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 4, 2017 at 22:30

2 Answers 2


The tort for this kind of activity is called public disclosure of private facts, and almost every U.S. state recognizes that this tort is invalid under the First Amendment in the absence of a legal duty not to disclose of the type existing between an attorney and client, or a psychotherapist and a patient, or a contractual non-disclosure agreement, that does not exist between roommates.

There is nothing illegal about your roommate's conduct. Your best move at this point is to take responsibility for your own conduct, to repent and to convince the world that you're doing your best to get on the straight and narrow going forward.

If your former roommate insisted on payment for not disclosing the information, that would be extortion, but there is nothing wrong with going ahead and disseminating it without trying to obtain something of value from you for not doing so.

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    @Imessedup It is perfectly legal to publish these videos with an intent to destroy your reputation and ruin your life. And, this is a good rule of law with wide acceptance in the American legal culture, not one that is controversial. If you resort to "dirty tactics" you will almost certainly be doing something illegal that could have negative consequences for you and make your life worse off.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 4, 2017 at 8:13
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    I was considering answering the question with unfortunate is what I'd call it, but this answer does sum it up better (although I wouldn't necessarily agree with the OP having a mental health problem - I don't know them well enough). But what kind of drug was it? Toking on a small joint that could easily be mistaken for a toothpick, or going the full Trainspotting needle in arm, dead baby in the next room scenario? Dec 4, 2017 at 11:38
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    Man, @ohwilleke, I gotta say, I am surprised at the intensity of your criticism of OP here. Doesn't sound like what I've read from you over the months and, more importantly, seems like it comes from somewhere a bit deeper than just some "dicta" in a StackExchange answer. Responsibility of course lies with those who take certain actions, but I would certainly say that, for example, I owed my college roommates the minimum level of privacy to not surreptitiously record them and then hold that over their heads for the foreseeable future. Do you also blame the victims of revenge porn?
    – A.fm.
    Dec 4, 2017 at 13:00
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    @Imessedup "Just to be clear, if these videos are published with intent to defame, that's still perfectly legal?" It's only defamation if the things claimed aren't true. Now, if told you to do something or else he'd release the video, that would be blackmail. Dec 4, 2017 at 15:04
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    The querent is from Ireland. The opinion of American courts, particularly with respect to a provision of the US Constitution, is entirely irrelevant to the question. I realize that was a late edit, but nonetheless this answer should be basically rewritten, or deleted. It addresses a different question entirely. And a solid example of why one should avoid answering unclear questions before they can be edited to provide all the relevant information.
    – KRyan
    Dec 4, 2017 at 22:06

I know nothing about the law.

What I have heard from others (that also know nothing) is that in some countries/states it might be illegal to record audio/video without the recording party being present. The exact location (public/private/bedroom/bathroom) of the recording might also make a difference.

(for example)

  • Illegal: Someone hides a running recording device and goes to work (not monitoring it from work).
  • Legal: Someone hides a running recording device and sticks around to experience that which is being recorded.

If any of this is true, and your roommate wasn't there when you got recorded, you might be able to take legal action against him for spying on you.

Try looking into whether it's legal to record using a hidden device where this happened.

  • 2
    Correct: Depending on the circumstances, recording can be a felony in many states. Although individuals generally can't force a criminal action (i.e., even if the recording was probably a crime, one can't force the state to prosecute that particular instance), one might sue for an injunction on that basis.
    – feetwet
    Dec 4, 2017 at 15:02
  • @feetwet True, but you can report a criminal action to the people who can prosecute it.
    – reirab
    Dec 4, 2017 at 19:21

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