A recent college girl’s Facebook post resulted in a court throwing out an $80,000 settlement, because the plaintiff and his daughter breached the terms of a confidential agreement when the she bragged about it on Facebook.
Only a few days after the case settled, the plaintiff’s daughter posted to 1,200 Facebook friends that her parents “won the case…Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”
The Legal Examiner reported that the Court of Appeal of Florida concluded that the defendant did not have to pay the $80,000 settlement on the ground that the daughter’s post violated the confidentiality provision in the agreement, and showed that the plaintiff himself had violated it by telling his daughter.
These days, privacy settings on Facebook and other social networks do not mean that your posts are confidential. In fact, in McMillen v. Hummingbird Speedway, Inc., the plaintiff, Bill R. McMillen, Sr., sought damages for injuries sustained when he was rear-ended during a cool down lap following a stock car race. When accessing the public portion of his Facebook page, the defendants discovered posts that allegedly showed that McMillen had exaggerated his injuries.
The defendants then requested access to McMillen’s Facebook and MySpace user names and passwords, contending that private areas could contain evidence relevant to his damages claim, specifically, whether he had made comments which contradicted his disability and damages claims. In ordering McMillen to provide such access, the judge concluded that “no person choosing MySpace or Facebook as a communications forum could expect that his communications would remain confidential, as both sites clearly express the possibility of disclosure.”
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