There have been numerous discussions here regarding individuals chronicling their daily lives through the use of Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social media. We can provide location information through foursquare or talk about our job through a Facebook status update or Twitter tweet. The possibilities are endless and lawyers are beginning to focus on social media outlets in the discovery process.
In a recent post by 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, the authors examine a defense attorney’s request for social media information related to a personal injury plaintiff. Specifically, the Court addressed whether the defendant was entitled to the current and historical Facebook and MySpace pages of the plaintiff. The defendant claimed it has reason to believe the plaintiff had posted pictures and information clearly demonstrating he was not suffering injuries or a loss of enjoyment of life – a claim in the lawsuit.
The Court agreed and ordered that the plaintiff provide a properly executed consent that would allow for obtaining Facebook and MySpace information. The discovery requests were narrowly tailored and sought information specifically related to the plaintiff’s alleged damages. It was not a fishing expedition. What if the defense attorney wants more general information? She could use Twitter or Facebook entries basically to recreate a time line of events for various plaintiffs and defendants in cases. The same goes with other information offered in social media outlets, like blogs, foursquare, and LinkedIn. It will be interesting to see how Courts handle these type of discovery issues. A rule of thumb – assume everything posted or authored on these sites is discoverable.