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Thursday, September 30, 2010

NY Judge Rules 'Private' Facebook Info Admissible

A New York judge has ruled that a woman's "private" information posted to Facebook is admissible in a court case the woman brought against a chair company. Facebook controls allow users to control which information, and how much, posted to their profiles is available to other users.

The trick to this ruling though, is that the woman apparently posted pictures and/or other information viewable by "all" to her profile, then deleted this information, which aroused suspicions in the first place. As some noted, this is akin to a suspect's personal effects, such as a diary, being allowed into a trial.

While The Cyberculturalist is all-for "public privacy" online -- meaning that every person has a right to make statements and post information that should not be deemed "public" simply because it is online -- this is a case in which we actually agree with the ruling. The reasoning is simple: If the company is at-fault and they deleted posted information which might be used in the complainant's favor, we would expect that information to be made public. In most cases, e-mails and personal profiles should be afforded some protection, as the First Amendment grants, but if the woman is lying about her claims, then that has the potential to affect other cases involving similar claims, and sets a precedent for similar cases, as well -- a precedent which the corporations and others would definitely use against future complainants in similar cases.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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