We know attorneys are already combing social networking sites for evidence in divorce, bankruptcy, personal injury, criminal matters and more. Now comes this federal court decision that outlines how much of a person’s Facebook profile is discoverable whether they have made that information public or not.
Sexual harassment suit
Plaintiffs are suing a company called Simply Storage for sexual harassment and the EEOC, took up their case. During discovery Simply Storage requested all information from the plaintiffs’ Facebook and MySpace profiles including photos, videos and textual messages etc. The EEOC objected and ultimately the court had to decide.
Party entitled to limited amount of Facebook data
The court rules that Simply Storage was entitled to discovery of social networking data limited to “mental state” in regards to the plaintiffs’ claim of emotion distress.
Privacy settings not enough
The Court’s limitation on what is discoverable on a social networking website seems laughably porous. I can imagine every plaintiff’s attorney in any case where emotional distress is involved looking for “mental state” evidence on Facebook and the like. So don’t feel secure because you’ve locked down your profile to just friends. Once you are involved in a lawsuit, the Pandora’s box of your Facebook profile will no longer be just the source of hilarity for you and your friends.