On this blog, I have warned before about the dangers of posting personal information online when involved in a personal injury lawsuit. I have also warned about debt collectors using social networking sites to find debtors.
If you are involved in a lawsuit or are hiding from a debt collector, you may not have felt the need to heed my warning, because most social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook give their users a lot of control over their privacy settings. These settings can prevent uninvited people from viewing your personal information or postings.
However, a judge in a personal injury lawsuit recently told a plaintiff she must give the defendant access to her private Facebook and MySpace postings. In the lawsuit, a woman sued an office furniture company, Steelcase, claiming she was seriously injured after falling off a Steelcase chair. Steelcase argued that her Facebook and MySpace profiles revealed that she had an active lifestyle and could travel, in spite of her claims that she is confined to her bed. Her profile on Facebook showed her smiling outside the confines of her home.
Facebook entered the lawsuit, claiming that handing over private information on the site violates the Stored Communications Act. However, the judge ruled that the information she posted on Facebook and MySpace should be turned over, claiming that she has no expectation of privacy online.