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Facebook for Service?

Foreign courts, including those of Australia, New Zealand and even now the British High Court have accepted service of process through Facebook when other methods fail. The ABA journal reports that in Marriage of Jessica Mpafe v. Clarence Ndjounwou Mpafe, a Minnesota state court accepted that service of divorce papers through Facebook would be a cost-effective way to reach a person outside the country.

Our federal courts haven’t gone there yet, but may not be far behind. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 4(f)(2) and 4(f)(3) allow an individual located in a foreign country to be served, in the absence of internationally agreed means, “by a method that is reasonably calculated to give notice … as prescribed by the foreign country’s law for service” or “by other means not prohibited by international agreement, as the court orders.” This language allows room for the service of process via social networking websites on individuals who are outside of the US, especially in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain where their courts have allowed this, if a reasonable case can be made.

Jeffrey N. Rosenthal has posted an informative blog looking at the progression of notice in our legal system. As courts move forward using Twitter, Facebook or other social networks for notice or service care must be taken to safeguard privacy and to avoid violating individual’s rights.


 

A World of Law Students in the News: Law Student Takes on Facebook

Max Schrems wasn’t sure what he would get when he asked Facebook to send him a record of his personal data from three years of using the site. What the 24-year-old Austrian law student didn’t expect, though, was 1,222 pages of data on a CD. It included chats he had deleted more than a year ago, “pokes” dating back to 2008, invitations to which he had never responded, let alone attended, and hundreds of other details.

One of Schrems’ main complaints with Facebook, he says, is that company retains information far longer than allowed under European law, which in most cases is limited to a few months. That issue has been the basis for several of the 22 formal complaints that Schrems and his group have lodged with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner – responsible for Facebook’s Ireland-based European subsidiary, which serves all users outside of the U.S. and Canada.


 

Report on “New Media” and the Courts

On August 26 of this year, the Conference of Court Public Information Officers (CCPIO) released a report titled “New Media and the Courts.” CCPIO surveyed members of the judiciary to see if and how they used such things as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia. The results show that about 40% of judges used social media profile sites but judges not standing for re-election were much less likely to be on such sites. Generally, judges used the sites in their personal lives and many questioned the ability of using it professionally without compromising professional conduct codes of ethics. The entire report is more than 100 pages.


 

About that Photo on Facebook…

A recent post on Legal Blog Watch reports that several law firms are beginning to develop policies or guidelines for firm members who maintain social network sites.   Firms report wanting to ensure that the social media activities of individual lawyers are consistent with the firm’s image.


 

Social Media and Law Students: A Best Practices Guide

Advice for using social media applications like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter as a way for law students to market themselves.