Consider the following hypothetical scenario: An attorney searches for an adverse party in an Internet search engine and discovers that the party has a Facebook page. The attorney reviews the limited public information available on the party’s Facebook page, but he realizes that if he asks to be online “friends” with the party he will be able to access much more detailed, private information about that party. This private information is only available to users the party accepts as “friends.” The attorney suspects that the private information may contain relevant information about the party’s credibility or the lawsuit. Taking advantage of the fact that many social networking users are less than discriminating when accepting “friend” requests, the attorney wonders whether he may ask a third party, such as his paralegal, to attempt to “friend” the party in order to obtain access to the party’s private information. The party and the paralegal are not acquaintances, but the paralegal would use his actual name and other identifying information in an attempt to “friend” the party. Of course, to gain access without raising suspicion, the paralegal would not reveal his affiliation with the attorney or the motivation for becoming “friends.” The question that arises out of this hypothetical is whether, from an ethical perspective, a cyberspace “friend” could become a foe.
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