Karen Hepp’s Landmark Lawsuit Against Facebook Is Now Over

Plus, good luck finding a newspaper for sale inside 30th Street Station.

karen hepp, who sued facebook over the use of a photo of her

Karen Hepp, who sued Facebook over a photo of her that appeared on the site. (Photo courtesy of Karen Hepp)

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Karen Hepp’s Landmark Lawsuit Against Facebook Is Over

It’s been quite a saga. But now that saga has ended. Karen Hepp has agreed to drop her lawsuit against Facebook and other entities, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to her case.

As you might recall, the Fox 29 anchor filed a federal lawsuit in 2019 against Facebook and other companies after a photo of her wound up in ads for dating sites and erectile dysfunction cream. Those ads appeared on Facebook and elsewhere. Hepp, who lives in Lower Merion, said the photo of her was taken without her permission — likely at a convenience store in New York City — and used in the ads without her knowledge. According to Hepp in an extensive interview we did with her last year, her colleague Steve Keeley saw one of the ads and alerted her.

Hepp’s case hinged on whether Facebook could be held accountable for content that appeared on its platform. Traditionally, the answer to that question has been no. That’s thanks to Section 230, an act passed by Congress in 1996 to give internet companies, which were in their infancy at the time, a chance to grow without constantly being sued over content produced by others. But in recent years, Section 230 has come under fire from all sides of the cultural divide, and two separate cases involving it wound their way to the Supreme Court.

The court could have issued rulings that helped Hepp’s case. Alas, it didn’t. On May 18th, the Supreme Court issued rulings that went in favor of Google and Twitter. The justices didn’t say online companies don’t bear any responsibility for content they distribute. But neither did they say they do. The court sidestepped that aspect of the law altogether. Five days after the Supreme Court ruling, Hepp agreed to drop her case.

Hepp’s attorney, Samuel Fineman, declined to comment other than to say, “The matter has been resolved.”

ATVs, Big Crowds and Shootings

Police had their hands full in Philadelphia over the long Memorial Day weekend.

On Sunday, something like 500 ATVs and dirt bikes flooded the streets of North Philadelphia, eventually making their way to City Avenue.

And on Monday, police had a crowd of 100 or so teens to deal with on the streets in Old City.

But those gatherings, while chaotic at times, were generally without incident. That wasn’t the case in some other areas of the city over the holiday weekend, with reports of nearly two dozen shootings.

So Much for Later School Start Times

There had been talk of moving the starting bell for some Philadelphia public-school students — particularly high-school students who might benefit from more sleep — to a later time. But that plan has officially been scrapped. Morning bell times for students in the upcoming school year will be the same as they were this year, with some high-school students starting as early as 7:30 a.m. The proposal would have had some students starting as late as 9 a.m.

Local Talent

You can still get tickets for this weekend’s Roots Picnic at the Mann (plus a special performance with the Roots and Dave Chapelle on Friday night at Wells Fargo Center). And the Roots aren’t the only hometown talent at the event. Other Philly notables include Eve, Beanie Sigel, Lil Uzi Vert and Freeway.

Fans of the Bad Boys movie franchise will be happy to know that Overbrook High grad Will Smith is reprising his role as Mike Lowrey in the long-awaited fourth installment. Bad Boys 4 is in production now. Expect a release in 2024. It looks like this will be Smith’s first time on the big screen since the widely panned Emancipation.

Why Board a Plane …

When there are so many great road trip opportunities right here in Pennsylvania? Check out our complete guide to awesome Pennsylvania road trips here. (It’s probably the only time you’ll find me writing about UFOs, Silence of the Lambs and Pee-Wee Herman’s bike all in one article.)

By the Numbers

540: Certified teachers in Philadelphia public schools as of 2022, down from 1,484 in 2011.

100: Small businesses that will receive grants and other support in the latest round of Comcast’s RISE program. The application window opens on Thursday and stays open through the end of June. You can apply here.

0%: Chances you will find a newspaper for sale at the last remaining newsstand inside 30th Street Station. The shop just announced it will no longer sell newspapers due to a lack of interest.

600 miles: Distance from Philadelphia of a Canadian wildfire that’s contributing to poor air quality and haziness in the Philly area.

And from the Welcome-t0-Philly Sports Desk …

Well, the Sixers have a new head coach, and it’s Nick Nurse. Should have been Dawn Staley. Maybe now we’ll like him? We never did before.

Weekend Phils news: They triumphed in Friday night’s game, 6-4, as Taijuan Walker went six and two-thirds innings and Brandon Marsh and Nick Castellanos helped with the offense. Trae Turner hit a clutch double! And Craig Kimbrel polished things off.

Maybe this team was … turning around?

In Saturday’s game, Zack Wheeler was magnifique, going eight strong shutout innings. The Phils won 2-1 even though Kimbrel flirted with disaster by giving up a solo homer in the ninth.

And Sunday’s game? Well, new starter Dylan Covey was a hot mess, giving up a seven-run first inning to the Braves. That’ll trash your ERA. It didn’t get better. Final score: 11-4. Ouch. They had the holiday off and face the Mets tonight for an away game at 7:10.

The Union played New York City Saturday at Citi Field, the weird small pitch that always gives NY home games an advantage. Gabriel Pereira scored for NYC early. A tying goal by Julián Carranza was called back for offsides, but he got another in extra time before the half. And then he scored again, two minutes later, right ahead of the whistle!

After the half, a foul on Carranza in the 49th minute drew a PK, and Dániel Gazdag knocked it in: 3-1 Union!

The online fans were going wild. And that’s where it stayed, right to the glorious end.

And speaking of endings, how about the ending to that Celtics-Heat Game 6 on Saturday night? Too bad last night’s Eastern Conference final was so anticlimactic. So — who you taking, the Nuggets or the Heat?

All Philly Today Sports Desk coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.