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The use of social networking sites has in a short period of time become a ubiquitous feature of our society. Facebook, which made its appearance in 2004, now boasts 500 million members[FOOTNOTE 1] and its growth curve has been an exponential, rather than a linear one. MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, commercial dating sites, and limited membership blogs have also experienced explosive growth and it is the rare individual under the age of 30 who is not a participant in some way, shape, or form. Issues involving information exchanged via social networks have assumed a prominent role in litigation involving family law, criminal law (including cases involving identity theft, as well as the sentencing aspects of just about any type of crime), defamation, intellectual property, and right of publicity, and, in an indirect way, have touched on the discovery aspects of cases in a variety of other substantive disciplines as well.[FOOTNOTE 2]

Their presence has not been limited to uncovering information about litigants, but has created ethical issues for attorneys involving gag orders,[FOOTNOTE 3] whether an attorney may solicit the assistance of a third party (or investigator) to "befriend" a litigant,[FOOTNOTE 4] and even whether the basis for an adjournment request before the judiciary was legitimate.[FOOTNOTE 5] Information developed from social networking sources has not only been used in connection with substantive positions, but has been utilized to form the basis for service of process in substituted service situations.[FOOTNOTE 6]

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