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Your Facebook Page is Evidence

Comments Off on Your Facebook Page is Evidence

In one of the first cases to expressly deal with this issue (there really have been remarkably few) a Federal court in Indiana has looked into “defin[ing] appropriately broad limits — but limits nevertheless — on the discoverability of social communications.”  EEOC v. Simply Storage Management LLC, S.D. Ind., No. 1:09-cv-1223, (5/11/10).  In this case, which dealt with harassment and other employment issues, the Court held that social media postings which reflected the emotional state of the complainant were discoverable and relevant.

The key paragraph:

Although privacy concerns may be germane to the question of whether requested discovery is burdensome or oppressive and whether it has been sought for a proper purpose in the litigation, a person’s expectation and intent that her communications be maintained as private is not a legitimate basis for shielding those communications from discovery.

However, the Court held that this does not mean that all social media communications are automatically discoverable.  Instead, the Court ruled that only relevant communications were discoverable, with relevancy in a case where state of mind matters to the substance can be fairly broad:

[T]he appropriate scope of relevance is any profiles, postings, or messages (including status updates, wall comments, causes joined, groups joined, activity streams, blog entries) and SNS applications for claimants Zupan and Strahl for the period from April 23, 2007, through the present 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.

So keep in mind that your postings are not only evidence of what you say, but may be evidence of your mental state.