N.Y. Judge Allows 'Private' Facebook Posts, Photos as Evidence

Lora Bentley
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If Facebook can remember these five facts about user privacy, its headaches might begin to fade.

In case someone missed it the first 520 times I've said it here, I'm saying it again: Be careful what you post on Facebook.


I did not say be careful what you <em>make public</em> on Facebook. I said be careful what you post. Period.


A judge in Suffolk County, N.Y., ruled this week that a woman's Facebook messages, photos and other posts could be used as evidence in her personal-injury suit against an office chair manufacturer. The fact that she had set privacy controls to limit who could access those posts did not matter.


According to The Wall Street Journal, the woman claimed she was "largely housebound" from injuries sustained when she fell from the manufacturer's chair. Attorneys for the manufacturer sought access to the woman's Facebook posts during discovery, and the motion was granted. The court rejected the woman's argument that she had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the posts and photos that she had restricted from public view.


Forbes blogger Kashmir Hill quotes the opinion as follows:

[W]hen Plaintiff created her Facebook and MySpace accounts, she consented to the fact that her personal information would be shared with others, notwithstanding her privacy settings. Indeed, that is the very nature and purpose of these social networking sites else they would cease to exist. Since Plaintiff knew that her information may become publicly available, she cannot now claim that she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

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