A recent decision in a personal injury action in Pennsylvania indicates to New Jersey criminal defense attorneys that access to Facebook and other social networking site accounts may not be as restricted as users like to think they are.
Facebook Posts Discovered Related to Lawsuit
The decision came in a personal injury lawsuit in Pennsylvania, in which the plaintiff was asked to supply login access information -- including usernames and passwords --of social networking sites that that he belonged to. Upon reviewing his Facebook account, the defendant found that the plaintiff had made a series of status updates and comments on other wall posts that were relevant to the case.
Attorney Argues Posts ‘Confidential’
Attorneys for the plaintiff claimed that the information was confidential and privileged, and that information shared on social networking sites like Facebook should be protected against disclosure. A judge at the Pennsylvania Court Of Common Pleas of Jefferson County disagreed.
Judge Says Not Privileged
The judge found that although social networking sites are used by friends to discuss personal matters, it would be unreasonable to assume that such information could be considered confidential. The court concluded that users must be aware that communications are posted on their Facebook wall or the status updates they post can be revealed to third parties. Therefore, any communications on Facebook cannot be considered protected from disclosure or privileged.
Lesson: Be Aware
New Jersey criminal defense attorneys believe there's a lesson in there for anyone who has a Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter account. The content of your account may not be as private and confidential as you assume and could be revealed during legal action against you.