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You’ve Been Served, through Facebook?

facebookWe have seen Facebook grow from a small college networking site to a global social media giant in less than a decade.  Facebook is used to connect friends and family and promote businesses.  Now over one billion people a month are on Facebook.  With over a billion people using Facebook as a communication channel, the U.S. government wishes to use it for their benefit.  The government wants to serve hard to reach defendants court papers through Facebook.  Is that true? Can you really be served papers via Facebook?

Yes, one Manhattan based Federal judge permitted the government to do just that.  For those thinking that is a bit ridiculous, here is a case where it was deemed necessary.  Defendants living in India are accused of scamming people into believing they have spyware or viruses on their computers.  They are then tricking these poor individuals into spending hundreds of dollars to fix their bogus computer problems. 

The Federal Trade Commission has tried repeatedly to serve court papers to the defendants via snail mail.  The problem is the defendants are proving hard to locate.  Evidence brought forth showing these defendants are active Facebook users prompted the government to ask permission to use Facebook as a means for communicating court documents.

U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer of Manhattan consented to their request. “The Court acknowledges that service by Facebook is a relatively novel concept, and that it is conceivable that defendants will not in fact receive notice by this means,” the judge wrote in regards to his consent.  However, he believed that as technology advanced, so must the courts.  He further wrote, “History teaches that, as technology advances and modes of communication progress, courts must be open to considering requests to authorize service via technological means of then-recent vintage, rather than dismissing them out of hand as novel.”

Do you think Mark Zuckerberg could have ever in his wildest dreams envisioned that his social media project would be used by the U.S. judicial system?  This is just another example of how social media is changing the way we all forever communicate.

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