Facebook can be used against you in court
Privacy is dead, and social media hold the smoking gun.
Two women who accused their employers of sexual harassment experienced Cashmore’s Law of Online Privacy first hand when a federal judge ordered them to give defense attorneys a raft of information from their MySpace and Facebook accounts.
The judge requested the mother load in her May 11 ruling. The pair must turn over all profiles, status updates, wall posts, groups joined, causes supported, photos, applications, and the like that “reveal, refer or relate to any emotion, feeling or mental state, as well as communications that reveal, refer or relate to events that could reasonably be expected to produce a significant emotion, feeling or mental state.” That sounds like just about everything, no?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the complaint on behalf of the two women, objected to the defense request, arguing that they should only have to produce information directly referencing the sexual harassment allegations. But Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch ruled that that could leave out info that doesn’t jibe with the allegations, since people don’t “note non-events on their profiles, such as, ‘My supervisor didn’t sexually harass me today.’” (As far as posting non-events, Lynch is evidently unfamiliar with the uber-minutia often found on Twitter.)
The ruling comes amid mounting concerns over Facebook’s shady and shifting privacy policies. Lynch, however, wrote that it wouldn’t matter if the women locked away information from public access – they’d have to turn it over just the same. The judge reasoned that privacy concerns are trumped by the fact that the women already shared the information “with at least one person.”
“Protecting our privacy starts with us, not Facebook,” argued Mashable’s Ben Parr in defense of the site. There’s a lot of wisdom in what Parr, as well as Cashmore, have to say about social media. We all should know by now that participation in Facebook and other sites like them means you’re effectively sharing with everyone. Now that could even include opponents in court.