Welcome to the Social Media Law Center, an online service of The Legal Intelligencer. In this section you will find a collection of news articles analyzing the legal issues and emerging trends in social media law.

Be sure to click on our other sections, which includes a timeline with key dates and cases, a table of cases with full-text opinions, and instructional videos on legal issues involving social media, by using the navigation bar above.

NEWS ARTICLES (Staff Reports)

Filing Suit Doesn’t Establish ‘Factual Predicate’ for Facebook Discovery
The Legal Intelligencer
March 5, 2013

A Schuylkill County judge has denied without prejudice the discovery request of an automobile accident defendant seeking access into his opponents’ social media accounts. The court’s reasoning falls in line with the burgeoning body of common pleas jurisprudence as attorneys wait for an appellate court to issue a ruling on social media discovery. Full Text

Accords Delaying Definitive Take on Social Media Discovery?
The Legal Intelligencer
December 18, 2012

For Pennsylvania attorneys who are following the state’s body of law on discovery motions regarding social media, here’s one thing to consider: While the law is not settled, many of the cases posing key questions of law have been. Full Text

Trial Courts Yet to Find Consistency in ‘Facebook Race’
The Legal Intelligencer
December 11, 2012

Highlighting the need for guidance from the state’s appellate courts, a Monroe County judge’s recent decision on a discovery motion into a woman’s social media account appears to have deviated from the growing school of thought among Pennsylvania jurists. Full Text

Cross Motions for Facebook Discovery Denied in Auto Case
The Legal Intelligencer
July 17, 2012

An Allegheny County judge has denied cross-motions from parties seeking to discover information on the Facebook profiles of the two people involved in a fatal automobile collision, ruling that the plaintiff’s request did not argue how the information would be relevant to a punitive damages claim, and that the defense motion relied on Facebook fodder that was not inconsistent with the plaintiff’s claims. Full Text

Judge Allows Man to Probe Alleged Assailant’s Facebook Page
The Legal Intelligencer
April 3, 2012

A Montgomery County judge has allowed a man claiming he was sucker-punched during a work-sponsored soccer game to investigate the Facebook page of his alleged attacker, ostensibly to find information to bolster his civil lawsuit. Full Text

Facebook Has Become a Factor for Pa. Family Law Cases
The Legal Intelligencer
Jan. 31, 2012

As trial lawyers continue to test the discoverability of information on Facebook without guidance from an appellate court, family law practitioners are reporting that it’s becoming a near rarity for a case to get through family court without use of the social media. Full Text

Plaintiffs Win Round on Discovery of Facebook Pages
The Legal Intelligencer
Jan. 3, 2012

A Philadelphia judge has denied an insurance company’s request to probe a Facebook page in an injury case after the plaintiff argued the insurer had not identified any public information on the page, relevant to the case or not, that would trigger discovery. Full Text

Plaintiffs Score a Pair of Wins in Social Media Decisions
The Legal Intelligencer
Dec. 20, 2011

Two Pennsylvania courts have recently denied defense motions asking for access to plaintiffs’ private social media pages, apparently evening the social media scoreboard and giving plaintiffs some much-needed case law to counter a trio of opposing decisions. Full Text

NEWS ARTICLES (Expert Columnists)

Three Steps to Being ‘Social’ and Marketing Yourself on Social Media
The Legal Intelligencer
April 23, 2013

A lot of conversations about social media mention the explosive growth of networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. They also include at least one individual who will tell you, unequivocally, that if you’re not on one of the "big three," you’ll soon be irrelevant. This isn’t one of those conversations. Full Text

Be Wary of FCRA When Using Social Media Data Collection Companies
The Legal Intelligencer
Feb. 13, 2013

The Internet is providing attorneys with valuable information about individuals in many types of cases, including, but not limited to, the areas of employment, family, criminal and personal injury law. In fact, evidence obtained from public online sources of information is often the deciding factor that can make or break a case. It makes perfect sense that many attorneys and their clients have turned to social media data collection companies to outsource this task. However, careful consideration of the purpose of the search and the law must be made before using a social media data collection company. Full Text


Lawyers Cannot Gather Facebook Information Through Deceptive Means
The Legal Intelligencer
Feb. 12, 2013

I am in the middle of a vigorously contested civil personal injury case. Can I pay one of my secretaries or an investigator or a third person to try to befriend the opposing party to get access to his or her private Facebook page? Full Text

Estate Planning and Administration in the Digital Age
The Legal Intelligencer
February 5, 2013

From our financial accounts and tax records to our music and photograph libraries, more and more of our assets are finding homes online. When we die, however, our online accounts and passwords do not necessarily die with us. Full Text

A Litigator’s Guide to Social Media Discovery in Civil Actions
The Legal Intelligencer
January 29, 2013

As social media inundates our daily lives, discovery requests seeking social media ESI grow increasingly common in civil litigation. However, because the technology is still relatively new, parties and courts are often confused or apprehensive about the discoverability of this data. Luckily, the application of traditional discovery principles clears this fog, revealing a fundamental truth: Discovery requests targeting social media data do not require a heightened justification or showing. Full Text

 

Corporate Control of Personal Communications
The Legal Intelligencer
January 29, 2013

Businesses are facing several new realities. Their customers and clients expect them to go beyond "traditional" forms of communication into social media. Their employees prefer or even expect to be able to communicate with family, friends and others via personal email, social media and instant messaging or texting while in the workplace. And the ubiquity of mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones has caused some companies to consider implementing "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) policies to cut costs and increase employee satisfaction. Full Text

 

Like It or Not, Online Preferences Are Not Protected Speech
The Legal Intelligencer
January 22, 2013

Does the First Amendment protect what you "like" on Facebook? Obviously, Facebook, with its vested interest in shielding all forms of user expression, would argue it does. But now it is not alone in that belief. In August 2012, the social media giant teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to oppose a Virginia district court’s decision that merely clicking the "like" button is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection. Full Text

Terminations for Harassing Facebook Postings Violate NLRA
The Legal Intelligencer
January 9, 2013

Although this column usually focuses on recent employment discrimination cases, employers and their counsel should be equally aware of recent decisions of the National Labor Relations Board that could impact workplace decisions. Of particular note is a recent board decision in In re Hispanics United of Buffalo, No. 03-CA-027872 (Dec. 14 2012), in which the board found that employees’ Facebook postings in response to a co-worker’s criticism of their performance was "protected activity" under Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act — and that their termination for the postings violated the act. Full Text

How to Understand Social Media Evidence
The Legal Intelligencer
January 7, 2013

Pew Research reports that more than 65 percent of all adults used social media every day in 2011 — up from 61 percent in 2010. This expansive use of social media has created new sources of evidence. So for lawyers to best assist their clients they must better understand social media and how their clients share information on the internet. Full Text

Lawyers Have an Obligation to Inform the Court of Evidence of Jury Bias Discovered through Social Media
The Legal Intelligencer
December 4, 2012

I am an attorney who is about to begin a jury trial. I have obtained a list of all of the jurors and have gone on social media to learn about some of these jurors. I see information that would show that some jurors are extremely biased one way or the other. Do I have an ethical duty to advise the court if the jurors don’t state the bias they are showing in social media when they are questioned? Full Text

Update on the Discoverability of Private Facebook Pages
The Legal Intelligencer
November 20, 2012

In today’s digital and virtual society in which almost everyone has some sort of social networking page, it is critically important for attorneys to be aware of what is discoverable in a personal injury lawsuit. Currently, there is a dearth of Pennsylvania appellate case law on the issue of discoverability of nonpublicly viewable Facebook information (i.e., "private" photographs, wall posts, status updates and, inter alia, friend lists). Full Text

Is Lying on Facebook or Online Profiles a Crime?
The Legal Intelligencer
October 25, 2012

Did you really go to Harvard? Were you actually born in 1982? Did you truly spend that summer backpacking through Europe? Your online profile certainly says so. But if such statements are, shall we say, somewhat less-than-truthful, did you just commit a federal computer crime? In other words, could lying on Facebook really land you in jail? Full Text

 

NEWS ARTICLES (Law.Com Network)

Lawyers Discuss SEC’s Social Media Disclosure Stance
The Recorder
April 11, 2013

The Securities and Exchange Commission last week gave its quasi-blessing on disclosure through social media, but lawyers who counsel companies on disclosure of material information say it’s unlikely to quickly change the way most companies do so. Full Text

Disclosures From Corporations Enter Social Media Age
National Law Journal
April 4, 2013

Companies can use social media like Facebook and Twitter to disclose important business information, but they need to make sure in advance that investors know where to look, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission concluded in a report issued Tuesday. Full Text

Panel Says Facebook Is Off-Limits in Divorce
Daily Report
April 4, 2013

The Georgia Court of Appeals has upheld a judge who pulled the plug on a warring couple’s Facebook fights. Full Text


Party’s Deletion of Facebook Page Ruled Spoliation of Evidence
New Jersey Law Journal
March 29, 2013

A personal-injury plaintiff who deleted his Facebook account while the defendants were trying to access it has been sanctioned for spoliation. Full Text

 

ABA Tells Judges to Tweet, ‘Friend’ and ‘Like’ With Caution
National Law Journal
March 1, 2013

Judges had best be careful with the tweeting and the friending, the American Bar Association has warned in issuing guidelines for jurists’ use of social media.
Full Text


Former Legal Assistant Sued Over Facebook Post
Texas Lawyer
September 20, 2012

Houston attorney Robert S. Bennett has sued a former legal assistant at his firm, alleging she made defamatory statements about him on Facebook. Full Text

Juror’s Facebook Posts Can Be Reviewed by Judge
The Recorder
August 27, 2012

A juror who posted comments on Facebook about his case during trial will have to turn over the posts. Full Text