Social Networking and Discovery

Be aware that social media accounts, such as FaceBook or MySpace, may not be private even if the privacy settings have been properly set on the website. Courts around the country, and specifically in Pennsylvania, have been struggling with this issue with varied results.

In Pennsylvania, the Courts have allowed defendants access in personal injuries actions to the “private sections” of social media account pages under certain circumstances. Recently, in the case of Arcq v. Fields, a Pennsylvania court denied access to the private sections of a plaintiff’s social media account because the defendant was unable to show any reasonable basis for believing that access to the plaintiff’s private pages would yield any information relevant in this motor vehicle accident case. Plaintiff, at his deposition, stated that he was incapable of participating in certain activities as a result of his injuries. The court held that they would not allow access to the private sections of a party’s social media account unless the public sections of that account yielded information that could be relevant to the underlying case.

The moral of this story is that social networking accounts may be subject to inspection in lawsuits. Do not be fooled by the privacy settings on your account. Those settings do not necessarily apply to, or protect information from, discovery in the litigation arena.

Edward Shensky is a member of Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Shensky.