If you’re an actor/actress hoping to perpetuate age misinformation, IMDb is not your friend.
A 41-year-old actress has lost her bid to sue the Internet Movie Database for publishing her true age on the popular site.
Junie Hoang, an actress with 99 IMDb credits to her name (mostly B-movies and TV shows), claimed that the Amazon-owned IMDb breached subscriber privacy agreements when they used information obtained through her IMDb PRo account to unearth her true age and report it on her page. A federal jury in Seattle has denied her claim.
Hoang singed up for IMDb in 2001, leaving her age blank at the time (not an uncommon practice among aspiring actors). Three years later, she updated her account, providing a 1978 date of birth.
Hoang was actually born in 1971.
Three years after that, she contacted IMDb and asked them to remove the untrue DOB. But IMDb did not comply. Finally, a year later, in 2008, she got IMDb to “go back to [their] files and see if [they] have any documentation, verification or identification” that her birthdate was, in fact, 1978.
It was then that she alleged someone at IMDb found her true DOB info in public records, based on information obtained from her IMDb pro account submission.
In their defense, IMDb said that it was their First Amendment right to publish the truth on their website, and that all of the information was obtained from public records. They also claimed that Hoang failed to adequately prove that she was actually harmed, monetarily, from her true age being published on the site.
Though Hoang failed to prove harm in this case, the Screen Actors Guild says that age discrimination continues to be a big problem in casting. In 2011, when Hoang first filed her lawsuit, the SAG said that they were “disappointed with IMDb.”
“Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strongly believe that businesses like IMDb have a moral and legal obligation not to facilitate age discrimination in employment. Entertainment industry employers who would never directly ask a potential employee’s age routinely access that information through IMDb and its professional subscription site IMDbPro. IMDb has the power to remove the temptation for employers to engage in age discrimination by accessing this information,” said SAG.