29 November 2010

Items You Mark as "Private" on Facebook Could be Discoverable if Someone Sues You

The Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board discussed Facebook/MySpace and how two trial courts -- in New York and Pennsylvania -- have issued orders compelling parties to turn over their Facebook/MySpace passwords.
Here are links to the New York and Pennsylvania cases.
In these cases, I'll concede that the parties foolishly posted information relevant to their cases on the social networking site.  Nonetheless, I am not sure I agree with the two judge's decisions.  Just because the privacy policies of both these sites say that the information can be disclosed pursuant to a court order does not give a court carte blanche to grant someone access to someone's Facebook or MySpace profile.   While people can choose to make information public on social network sites, they also might store personal information as well.  In some ways, these sites are similar to any email provider.  Gmail's privacy policy says something quite similar about disclosure.
The moral of this story, though, is that people should be very careful with what they post on MySpace or Facebook.

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