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Facebook Discovery in Civil Litigation

The constant use of Facebook and other social media sites has become a prominent issue in civil litigation over the last five (5) to eight (8) years. Things that you may think are private may well turn out to be public. Trial courts throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have issued various decisions regarding what information is discoverable in civil litigation and what is not. Many individuals post comments, images, memes, and hit the like button without thinking of the consequences.

Here is something to think about: Pennsylvania Trial Courts have taken the following actions when dealing with requests for Plaintiff’s Facebook information:

  • Ordered Plaintiff to produce his/her username and password to the Defendant(s);
  • Ordered in camera review (done by Judge) of Plaintiff’s private Facebook page; and
  • Ordered access to Plaintiff’s social media sites where there was a showing that the private social networking pages may generate relevant information;

The above is not an all inclusive list of remedies that judges have fashioned regarding discovery of Facebook or other social media information. It is however, eye opening. Everyone should be cognizant of the fact that anything put on social media could end up in the hands of the Defendant(s) during the course of civil litigation. It is extremely important to think before you post comments, images, memes, and/or hit the like button.

Neil T. O'Donnell

Author: Neil T. O’Donnell

Attorney

267 Wyoming Avenue
Kingston, PA 18704

E-Mail: ntod@odonnell-law.com
Phone: (570) 821-5717
Facsimile: (570) 821-5799

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