UK judge allows service via Facebook

Facebook users in the UK might start thinking twice before accepting friend requests from people they absolutely don’t know. An English High Court judge allowed two lawyers to serve a defendant they had been unable to contact in person or via email through Facebook. Source. Although courts in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have used the social networking site (as well as Twitter) to serve individuals, the United States has not yet jumped on that legal bandwagon.

In the United States, generally, service of process is not permitted even via e-mail, although it can be done by e-mail with permission under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4.

Facebook isn’t exactly known for its privacy protection. However, it’s also not that hard to make a fake account, either. A few of my Facebook friends have set up accounts for their dogs, and it’s not all that hard to change your name on Facebook. Users just have to click something verifying the name displayed is, in fact, their legal name.

As with all things technological, with the increased ease of use comes a decreased form of security and surety. Although service of process via social media would make some things easier, it is also harder to verify a person’s identity. Also, it’s not always easy to figure out how regularly someone checks a social networking account.

A number of ethical issues arise as well, such as how a person could be served without deception. Presumably, some of us don’t just randomly approve friends, so getting in the position to serve a person via Facebook could be difficult.

One Response to UK judge allows service via Facebook

  1. dan says:

    I see this as one-shot deal (or close). Once people knoW that they can be served they will get their friends to create mulitple fake accounts for then. It might even be a viable commercial venture (cash only??)

    Also the existence already of web pages on Facebook dealing with fake accounts impersonating members suggests this could already be problematic. I already have two idiots that created fake accounts in my name so i am not too concerned personally

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